Day 23 — a sonnet, sort of + big birthday cakes

Today’s poem is a homage to Bill by way of Henry VIII. It’s a Golden Shovel of “Orpheus with his lute” a 12 line poem/song in Henry VIII. Many/Mosyt scholars believe this play was a collaborative effort between Bill & John Fletcher, & I’m inclined to agree with them because it’s never felt like “Shakespeare” to me.

I’ve chosen it because: well Orpheus … & I have Golden Shoveled the last words of each line, juggled them & turned it into a sonnet. Not a great sonnet, mind you, but one with a passing resemblance to a snout. Unlike the ones from the 19th which were all AI generated That was the big guessing game thing that all two of you played haha). It had been my intention to reinterpret one of those to try & punch it into shape but I just found it too hard/the lines too banal. This definitely needs more work, but time being what it is means you get what you see …


Luteless, Orpheus
(with Golden Shovelment to William Shakespeare/John Fletcher)

Forlorn Orpheus longed once more to see 
for himself; the unbelievable greenness of trees,
Rather than be buried neckdeep in melancholy
surrounded by deep dirt, soul ready to freeze

He had long since forgotten how to sing
had no desire to take up lute & play,
Forgotten there was a thing called spring.
had no desire to complete his latest lay.

He longed for the cheerful sway of flowers
wished somehow to re-kickstart his sad heart
Longed for the gentlest summer showers
wished sadly to care once more about petty art:

If only he hadn’t glimpsed her in his corner eye
Then neither of them would have needed to re-die.


Day 23 — TIL about Bill’s birthday

old man Bill

If Bill
were alive today 
he’d be 459
which although 
pretty rootin’ tootin’ 
ancient — is still
less than half
as long as Noah 
or Adam.

he splashes all 
the post-flood crew
out of the water
— over double 
Abraham & Isaac;
almost quadruple 
poor young Moses.

Which is easier to believe:
Methuselah made it to 969
— or the Stratford man
wrote the damn plays!

Day 23 – Ode

Given that Billy Boy’s birthday (maybe) & death day falls in the middle of NaPoWriMo, I usually like to write something Bard-related.

This year, I’m focussing on the famous joke about the school kid who was studying Macbeth complained: “I dunno know why my teacher says Shakespeare was such a good writer.  Everything he writes is a cliché.”

As is often the case with these collage poems, it has clunky patches (which would have been softened if I didn’t give myself Game 1, below) but I think in a future rewrite could be smoothed out to give me sense.

Two games for readers:

1. How have the clichés been arranged?

2. One play is not mentioned … this is not for want of trying, but dozens of websites listing famous phrases that have passed into cliche territory, not one listed a recognisable or common phrase people would easily recognise. Very strange. I even skim read most of the play, trying to find one I could pinch. Nada. There is a prize for those who can name the play (haha, there is no prize except the joy of satisfaction).

The Bard of Cliche

& so I step Into thin air, a Brave new world
Such stuff as dreams are made on —
Strange bedfellows, Make a virtue
of necessity As good luck would have it
I am no longer a Laughing stock
The world’s mine oyster I Refuse
to budge an inch Something in the wind
Makes me As merry as the day is long
& that’s the Obscene Zany Naked truth
Fancy-free, Swift as a shadow
But With bated breath, I wait
Even though Love is blind Truth will out
I could Hold a candle to your Pound of flesh
Forever and a day Cannot get
Too much of a good thing
All the world’s a stage
All of a sudden, Bedazzled
You Break the ice Kill with kindness
It’s Cold comfort to know
All’s well that ends well
As you Laugh yourself into stitches
Out of the jaws of death Leaving my face
— As white as driven snow.

I must Play fast and loose
There is no Elbow room To keep
my Spotless reputation as a Night owl
Yet Give the devil his due
Set my teeth on edge The game is afoot
He has Eaten me out of house and home
It’s an ill wind which blows no man to good
A heart of gold, Faint hearted
Mum’s the word, Tongue tied
Tongue, Dead as a doornail
Tongue, A tower of strength
For goodness sake

It’s Fashionable to say Good riddance
to the Devil incarnate
A fool’s paradise A wild goose chase
Parting is such sweet sorrow
We have seen better days
A dish fit for the gods Masters of their fate
Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war
I am constant as the Northern Star
Milk of human kindness
Live long day All our yesterdays
in One fell swoop we Double double
toil and trouble Be-all and the end-all
Crack of doom Knock knock! Who’s there?
To thine own self be true
In my heart of hearts
In my mind’s eye There’s the rub
Nothing can come of nothing
& so we Come full circle
Where everything is
A foregone conclusion