Friday, November 19, 2010

A Shakespeare Poem on Friday

No, not a poem by Shakespeare, one about him. You see, my 13-year-old daughter is supposed to be writing a research paper. The topic she chose was about the debate some people go into about who "really" wrote Shakespeare's plays. (For the record she thinks he wrote them, and I agree.)

Anyway, while she was supposed to be busily typing up her paper, she got to thinking about Shakespeare's son, Hamnet and this is what she came up with.

Hamnet Shakespeare

by KRM

Papa comes home, smiling, whistling,

He tells us stories of London


Perhaps performs a skit or two

He picks me up

Tells me I’m more handsome

Than the last time

He saw me

Was that six months hence?

Susanna and prissy Judith

Both tease me as we set the places

Mother chides us,

Our father is home, be on your

Best Behavior

Papa tells us he could

Care less, He loves us

As we are

I wonder secretly to


‘Why isn’t Papa home more?’

Mother has no good answer. She smiles

Tells me what I’ve heard before


Other Papas have work

Here in Stratford.

Why does our Papa

Work in London?

He’s an actor, Mother says

He writes plays,

He’s a player, he acts

For the public, the king, the queen


Papa and Mother sit before

The fire, talking about


I think.

My twin, Judith

Tells me it’s

Rude to listen, to work on my

Latin like a good boy

I stick my tongue out

At her.

She’s a prissy girl,

What does she know?

Papa and Mother argue

She says for him to come

Home more often

He says it can’t be done

She says others manage it

He says he loves her very much

There’s writing he must get to

She says ‘The children

Need a father’

He says, ‘they more need a mother’

He smiles at me, peering from behind the door

Curiosity getting the

Better of me

Mother doesn’t see me

She’s angry

Angrier than

She is at me

Sometimes, when I

Don’t do my schoolwork.

Papa sits by the fire, writing.

Feather scratches the paper, I wonder

What he writes.

He tells me to come to him, to

Listen to a scene.

He writes other things, too

Things about “Anne”

My mother.

He crumples that up

And tosses it into the fire

I watch the flames envelope

The paper

He tells me about the stage

I tell him about Susanna and Prissy Judith

He tells me I’d be a great actor

Stealing the stage

I say

I want to go with him to London

He says maybe one day, Hamnet.

It’s August,

I’m sicker than sick

Mother says she’s called for


But I don’t want Papa

I want to be well

Prissy Judith, and Susanna are

Reverent by my bedside

I think about Papa

Maybe I’ll go to London

With him after

I’m well

I tell Mother this

She cries.

I think about Papa

The way they’d argue

How he’d write about her

I tell her this

She cries again. She tells

Me I’ll be well again

Soon, soon, soon

But by then

I knew

I wouldn’t be

Hamnet Shakespeare died in August 1596 from unknown causes. It's also unknown if his father was present at the time.