by Marion D. S. Dreyfus (July 2021)
Faces of Shakespeare, Milton Glaser
That seven-year "lost period" of the Bard.
Between the birth of Will's first children
and his first notices in London
Did he vagaboard there, to tummel in the traveling troupe
of the Commedia dell'Arte to
polish his craft, top off his tongue,
educate his ear, the daft
punnish perception from pleasing the Romanesque politely
donned in the grotesque fantastical masks
of the comedic cognoscenti?
Did he away to Verona?
Hie thither from wyfe and progeny in Stratford
for the shadowy Dark Love of the sonnets?
Did he muse on the pews of the then-less-aged arches and pergolas,
strong stirrings of cultured, clever rambunct
porcelain statues of heroes and demigods, Ichabods,
some headless, some genitally bereft 'neath futile figleafs
our avenue to aestheticizing our stunted
understandings and restless myths?
Did he gaze on the immaculate groomed trees
greening the stoic seven hills extending from and
Overlooking the ochre leathern artisanity of the city? Archaic
but trended future even then, that teeming burgh seen
through a Veronic morning's gossamer fog,
precipitation to William translating into the formulae
of his colossus mind converting to the chemistry
greeting the alchemy of perception sculpted by
ready presence, outsize creation, this swan of Avon,
perched as if on the sturdy fletch of the archangel
carved so often above the bedpub's door, eye-level of
orators and avid easel's sponsor, the patron?
Did Mr. Shakes peer down from his angelic aerie
above the golden romance antique town—even then!—
Speculating on the searing angst of Romeo, or
on the wing-ed thoughts of lissome Juliet, enisled by
family hatreds etched into their tradition, kept apart
—that balcony! That colluding lady's maid! —from the
huddled hieroglyphs of the quaintly spired skyline,
the dun-colored tunics of the townsmen, feeling
their throttled ardor; were he there, he'd well and simple
fall in love, with Verona, with Juliet, with Romeo, one surmises.
Pacing the Veronic cobblestoned dusk, perhaps he himself
a sodden poet, on a bridge, or spanning the river. En route
from revelry—free of family, encrusted with danker love—
to a hospitable hostelry conjured by crack'd pavement's whirly
cyclonic, picturesque dust and Italic detritus, the legend a
humble jester-ghost, now glowing Yorick, now 'calcitrant
Hamlet ... meanders along, interior visionary, maybe
dreaming, inside-penciling of a last-love, a lost love
passion-spackled apprising soliloquy, grandiloquently.