This poem is a piece of recorded history…like a lot of histories it is one man’s opinion. It is an opinion that questions the legitimacy of Shakespeare’s work.

It is not my opinion.

I ask you to suspend your disbelief with regard to numerous items in this poem

The pencil was invented in 1564 when a huge graphite or black carbon mine was discovered in Borrowdale in the Lake District. Graphite was sawn into sheets and then cut into square rods. The rods were inserted into hand-carved wooden holders. Shakespeare could have used a pencil.

The pencil eraser or rubber was invented in 1779 by Edward Nairne who, by inadvertently picking up a piece of gum elastic instead of breadcrumbs, noticed its erasing properties…

The eraser is in the poem solely to get a laugh.

Hey, it’s my recording of history…get used to it.

The death of Christopher Marlowe was in 1587

Shakespeare’s first published play was believed to be around 1590

You do the mathssssssssssss

shakespeare_1758033b

The year is 1587

A dark-haired, slightly- balding mature student is studying Creative Writing at Southwark Polytechnic.
The scene is the rented flat he shares with his wife Anne and their young twins Judith and Hamnet in Deptford while they rent out their family home in Stratford upon Avon.

What you are about to hear is a history…one of many.

It is a history that fills the gaps in metrical form…

You might call it…a sort of blankety-blank verse

 

SOLILOQUY (with stage instructions)

Aye, ‘tis here the very phrase…(points to page)

“Every dog has his day.”

This book a present from my dear wife Anne

Has come to my rescue once again.

Heywood’s “Proverbs in English Tongue” (holds up book)

Is a valued crutch to the writer’s arm.

Now let’s put the proverb to the test

And fit it in my masterpiece. (takes up pencil)

“Let Hercules himself do what he may

The cat will mew and every dog has his day.”

Alas the metre is all at odds

And sits not well upon the page.

I must amend it for my teacher

Mr Marlowe is damnably strict

And will think naught of picking

At the bones of my work

As if he were a ravenous dog.

And the rest of the class

Eager to please him

Will roar at my expense.

Then my Lord Marlowe will strut around

Delighting in my shame.

A curse on that man and his witty tongue!

Now let’s amend.

Where is my eraser,

I have not seen it ere a while.

Methinks I threw it at the dog

While shouting “Out damn Spot, out I say!”

And have not seen it since.

Ay, there’s the rub (bends to pick up eraser) -ber.

Now I’ll try again. (takes up tiny feather)

I have a fondness for this tiny quill

Which I picked up at a new shop in town;

An emporium much like a cornucopia

With such a variety of wares.

Argos and Son of Deptford Town

I think they will go far.

Back to my words…

“Let Hercules himself do what he may

The cat will mew and dog will have his day.”

All’s well and nearly done;

But soft I had forgot

I must complete the Prince’s speech

And give a name to this gloomy Dane.

What name shall I give you, my noble Lord?

I have oft thought of Toby

Toby, Prince of Denmark.

I will ponder on it with one of these cigars

Brought hence from the New World by Sir Walter.

A satisfying smoke while I think

Of a name for this Danish prince.

Toby, or not Toby…That is the question.

CURTAIN

WILLIAM-SHAKESPEAR_2122089b

PART TWO

Alas I have written a surfeit of words

And must practice the surgeon’s art.

Marlowe said only fifteen score

But I care not. My play is good

And a curse on him.

With the help of Dame Fortune

My play might sell and perchance

I will become a prosperous man.

No more would I be forced to put

Our humble cottage in the wife’s name.

If it had not been so

I doubt we would have got the mortgage from the Abbey.

A goodly man, the Abbot.

 

Hark! What is that caterwauling without?

‘Tis my mistress Anne

(That woman hath a way with her!)

What is that confounded screaming, wife?

Be still my beating heart. What news?

Kit Marlowe dead, you say?

Killed in a tavern brawl in Deptford

And I, having recently borrowed

His unpublished plays for my instruction.

It seems that every dog does have his day

And where there’s a Will…there’s a play.

© gray lightfoot

anne hath

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, Shottery, Stratford upon Avon

 

Hear Gray read the poem at…