Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 26, National Poetry Month: "Write till your ink be dry"

William Shakespeare  was baptized this day (April 26) in 1564. The exact date of his birth is unknown. In his honor I wrote the following cento/sestina, or if you prefer, sestina/cento completely from his works.

It has been published in

available HERE .

So, Happy Sort-of Birthday, Will!

The Bard
by Catherine Chandler

Our hands are full of business: let’s away,
and on our actions set the name of right;
with full bags of spices, a passport, too,
for we must measure twenty miles to-day
when day’s oppression is not eased by night.
So come my soul to bliss, as I speak true.

If it appear not plain and prove untrue,
that so my sad decrees may fly away,
kill me to-morrow: let me live to-night!
Thou livest; report me and my cause aright.
Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day?
If thou say so, withdraw, and prove it, too.

Let me have audience for a word or two:
this above all: to thine ownself be true.
Yet I confess that often ere this day,
in cases of defence, ’tis best to weigh,
to look into the blots and stains of right,
in high-born words the worth of many a knight.

The mountain or the sea, the day or night –
one side will mock another; the other, too.
O, let me, true in love, but truly write
without all ornament, itself and true,
for fear their colours should be washed away,
as are those dulcet sounds in break of day.

The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
and she died singing it: that song to-night,
which by and by black night doth take away;
if she pertain to life, let her speak, too!
They would not take her life – is this not true?
O, blame me not, if I no more can write!

Never durst poet touch a pen to write:
we are but warriors for the working-day.
If what I now pronounce you have found true:
when the sun sets, who doth not look for night?
Please you, deliberate a day or two,
let thy fair wisdom, not thy passion sway.

There is no other way: do me this right –
and it must follow, as the night the day,
write till your ink be dry. O, ’tis too true.

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