Shakespeare After London
Shakespeare had actually retired from the theatre and spent some years as a lay minister in the parish close to where he grew up. . . .
(Michael McGirr, Things You Get for Free)
Parson Will reads Scripture every Sunday
long after London, the theatrical farce
and creative spark. Here in Stratford,
near where he schooled, the quiet lane
where the children and Anne remained,
he passes the plate, offers his wisdom
to those who would bolt from kids and spouse,
take the nursemaid in the bower for sport
an hour, pinch the salt-who’d be looking?
He had seen all sorts of folly at the Rose,
long before the King’s Men and the Globe.
He knew human foibles, pride and lust,
princely arrogance. What could he say
in cleric s garb to sway them from sin,
the rifling desire to taste pleasure they
fancied sated him? Hadn’t he come back,
the sot turned from his sack, chiding them
with Nehemiah, Jonah, minor prophets?
London could beguile, but let the garden
serve as symbol: festive beauty does not linger,
and kale, harvested daily, will fill a larder.
He will be buried here, he knows, amid
the tumble of old stones. Cousin Michael’s
bones nearby, other kin in decaying tombs.
Better to rest in the village of one’s birth
Than strut a foreign stage at death.
The logic of life charts a grand circle.
* Stella Nesanovich is Professor of English at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her most recent collection of verse is Vespers at Mount Angel.
Copyright Anglican Theological Review, Inc. Fall 2005
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