Saturday, 10 July 2010

Our natural inarticulateness, and Shakespeare: some thoughts!

I saw a life-affirmingly wonderful production of As you like it earlier this week (hopefully I'll blog about it soon) and it put me in mind of a poem I wrote about a year ago. It sprang from a desire to convey an idea in my head - that, for a lot of us, we love Shakespeare because he never shies away from attempting to convey the giddiness and terror and ecstasy of all aspects of life. We are all very inarticulate, I think (that's true isn't it? We can never quite express exactly what's in our heads or hearts?), and I love Shakespeare because he gets closer than I ever could to properly putting into words things that I feel. Stuff like Lear, on Cordelia's death: No, no, no life! Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more, Never, never, never, never, never! Which of us hasn't wanted to scream that after a loved one's death?

Anyway, I wanted to write a poem that starts out like a Shakespearean sonnet, but whose structure gradually disintegrates as the writer loses faith in the form, feeling that it's too emotionally honest for modern sensibilities - and then, at the very end, there would be a glimpse of true feeling again. It may be rubbish (and please don't feel obliged to read it if the very idea makes you cringe - I would usually be appalled at the idea of someone displaying their poetry in public! A bit like holiday photos, I guess) but it conveys a thought in my head better than prose can, I think:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Or number all thine attributes and charms,
Until thy soul seem'd all but writ away
And I should run to clasp you in my arms?
I laugh: already, how my pen recoils
From these old forms - he knows his master, so
He corrects "thee" and, here, the metre spoils
A little. Still, I'll struggle on, I -
No. It does feel a bit OTT, tbh.
We're kinda past that, aren't we? Society. Us.
You'd cringe, probably - a sonnet?! - I'd blush. Stammer.
Not worth the effort, mate.
And yet... Inside, I long to flee this curse.
My lips may lie; my heart must speak in verse.