Day 23 – couple of presents for the birthday boy

Today is the anniversary of some guy’s birth who I’m kinda interested in. So I’m giving him two presents.

I started the first poem last year during NaPoWriMo14, but the loss of power in my house prevented me from finishing it. So it has been ‘rolled over’ to NaPoWriMo15. It’s still not quite what I want — but that’s what May is for, right? The second one is just a bit of fun — which no doubt only folks who know a bit about The Bard might find droll (but I’m not holding my breath on that). Really it was written to keep myself amused.

*****

I.
451 candles

though there’s doubt over the date
the compromise is St George’s Day
three days before your baptism
though under the Julian calendar
it’d be May 3, so what’s in a date?

admittedly you seem like a ghost
across all the lost centuries
we glimpse you only tangentially
through the dust & distance
your poor posthumous portraits
your six scrawled signatures
your small latin & less greek
your second best bed, your poaching
& all the accompanying apocrypha

you are perhaps the best known man
who we know next-to-nothing about
but the feeling of paucity stems from
the desperate intensity of our gaze
gaps exist for almost everyone of the time
your peers are no exception
yet of the 3000-odd plays believed staged
during this “golden age” of theatre
38 of the 230 extant manuscripts are yours
— 1 in 15 is a very respectable ratio

however, a succession of looneys enjoy
casting doubt on your every aspect —
appearance, identity, even your life itself
they cannot accept an ordinary man
can make extraordinary work
but rather needs to be from the ruling class
(bacon, de vere, queen bess herself, etc)

one thing that is certainly certain
were you still alive today
you’d have a heck of a time
blowing out all the candles

II.
the signing of the wills

far from being the genius
everyone claims
i counter you’re just
a willy-nilly-numpty
who didn’t know how
to spell his own name

that’s right i said it mr so-called

Wm Shakspe
Willm Shaksp
Willm Shakspere
William Shakespe
William Shakspere
William Shakspeare

you can’t even get it right — Shakespeare

*****

10 - BKA-Computermontage - Chandos-Portraet - Droeshout-Stich , 1995

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