Each name is a nemesis for the spirits
That stumble into the stage, life unrehearsed,
And end performing unknowingly
In the drama of death,
Lamenting for the name that is lost.
You asked- “What's in a name?”
Well, in name alone there is the tragedy of loss—
The loss of a name conceived.
When the curtain falls,
Where's that mad Macbeth and his fear?
And king Lear? Humphrey daughters, stinkards,
Nibble on noble quinces behind the cushions,
And chastise the old man,
Behind the old man,
Forgetting the role before his role.
Hamlet walks with Hamnet
Through the Elizabethan towns
Winking at girls in rough gowns and corsets,
Talking about love and bets.
Lancelot is sober with a bottle of ale,
Bent and grave before the graves of flowing faces,
Hard as rock, and Shylock-
Sullen in the scullery counting cabbages.
All who were names for a while
Are undone, the magic’s gone
And all who were brave in the stage-strife
Now crawl in the amphitheatre of battered life!
Tragedy is an empty stage,
Left alone when the craze of comedy ends,
With clapping hands and musical bands,
With rats rolling the empty bottles
Left by the tipplers crowding the taverns.
The actors are gone, the props lie scattered
And shattered is the dark upon the stage,
Acting the role of a night.
And the brave fight ends that frightens
The devils asleep,
And lulls the angels in a slumber
Divine and deep.
Fiction becomes life, life fiction,
And everyone's a name,
Behind a name, and before.
Shakespeare's a name: a tragedy left behind,
For the spirit who's not Shakespeare anymore.
(Published in A Poet’s View of Being, edited by Brian Wrixon, Canada. http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/3631520
And in The Browsing Corner, edited by Minaskhi Watts, New Delhi. http://www.thebrowsingcorner.com/poetry/english/207-a-tragedy-named-shakespeare.html)