Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Some Deleted Scenes from the Oxford Dictionary

“I’m guessing that, say, Shakespeare, in the heat of composition, discovered something that affects us deeply (his words, the way he says something) and might make us feel what he never did. What he wrote somehow just showed up, came from his labors of trying to write a play. He just found himself writing “discandy” or “spanieled.” I’d go so far to say that when Shakespeare wrote his great soliloquies, he had no idea, nothing specific, of what he was going to say. He’d write, compose, work hard, and figure that in the struggle to put words on the paper the beautiful words, those beautiful juxtapositions, he’d just find them. I am almost prepared to say that anything Shakespeare felt deeply and tried to express would not measure up to what he wrote when he was merely working. Of course Shakespeare uses form, but creates from that which has already been created.” Bruce Floyd

I imagine the Earl slumming in East London public theatres
Finding there some distance in its Shoreditch motley scapegrace
From the relentless logic of the court, its arts of fair skullduggery,
What he needed to perceive the truth of how he fell so far,
The way he’d been abandoned down the line to deadly lords
And careless ladies. At Fisher’s Folly in Portsoken Ward
Behind the Blue Boar Inn, he could reconstruct the scenes
For traveling entertainments, make a mecca for lewd friends,
The dissolute Lyly, Peele, Munday, Nashe, Kyd, Marlowe, Greene,
The lowest form of vermin, known as poets. A place for guilt
To fester, for his wife, his debts, his rage, the blood set on revenge
Against as his only satisfaction, what fuels the artist is
What’s never satisfied, for it’s always pure for others.

Or I see him as an outcast on the rocky Isle of Man
Older than the scofflaws and tax dodgers,
Holding court with shipwrecked sailors and would-be players,
Revising as his last Bermuda freight in “common shipwreck” sank,
Trying to buy some time once more for all
Those oceans of unending patience and practice
That it takes to channel the muses,
To create unconsciously, without that ruthless voice to mediate
All soundings from the deep.
There is nothing that he wants to leave behind him
But the art—all else has burned in its fire:
His forests, his falcons, his theatres,
The Scottish wars, Aegean coast,
His erudition, his reputation and his family,
All vaporized to words that betrayed all
But some invisible seeker of the true.

He was a man so hopelessly out of place,
A noble from the longest, most prestigious line in England
Stuck in this tortured artist’s body
In a most unpromising time and ridiculous place.
Even his title was a joke: 17th Earl of Oxenford,
Lorde Greate Chamberleyne of Englande,
Viscount Bulbecke, and Lorde of Badlesmere and Scales.
He was trained from birth to execute betrayals,
Make despicable deals as haughtily as he would
Tear a pomegranate open, practice misdirection on a scale
Unimaginable to normal men, lightly wave his fingers
In the air as if some matter has been settled
When the horror had just begun.
Yet it was so easy for a prince to write like a fool,
For a failure at every art of war to voice the orders of generals,
For an unrepentant courtier to sweat the obsequies mere mortals
Must swear to survive. For the man who could have been king
To throw play thrones away in shame of love, for he knew
What he had given up, in fealty to no crown.

His every figure was perfectly drawn from life,
It was as easy as taking dictation,
But he was ill-equipped
To fathom they’d recoil like that,
At his hypnosis to be stopped
Or pushed back into the pewter kegs
Of his grand but shameful theatres,
Where the truth came line by line.
He had lost with every word
The thing that made him human among humans,
Compassion was all that was left inside,
The smallest and most bitter dreg.

Online Biography of Edward de Vere

5 comments:

Jack said...

Wow. This read with a tone of...unearthing. Shredding layers to discover. Like learning through a feeling, I don't know.

Your previous mentions of De Vere led me to reading his work, by the way.

the walking man said...

Is it he or is he not to be? That is the question.

William A. Sigler said...

Love your de Verean wit, Mark.

Thank you, Jack. Many of your poems remind me of his. Of his work I prefer the Sonnets (about his illegitimate son with Queen Elizabeth) and Hamlet (straight autobiography except that the man who poisoned his father didn't marry his mother).

Someday the world will connect his unbelievable life story with his unbelievable words and be so much richer -- until then there's poetry.

Anonymous said...

That is a masterpiece - I feel you've found a way to light us fools back through so many yesterday's back to his doorstep where we find the Beast's heart beating still- but muffled in secret chambers where the furniture is wrapped in awful tacky plastic.
We've been tearing the plastic off shred by shred though the hysterical museum or is it mausoleum same difference security guards keep shrieking different contradictory citations from their book of code violations/ this just so we can see the room again - but I feel you are in some special communion with the Earl here- your lines cut close very close
He himself could only deal in code in counterfeit when it came to his own public utterances . His true image
Always lies hidden like the reflection of the Moon at the bottom of the great well- I like the way you lower us down into the depths of the well
I like to imagine going there we bring aid and comfort and companionship to his restless unsettled soul
Even from the bottom of this well he has been able to emanate powerful and heroic moonbeam rays to illuminate so many obscure and unconscious aspects of the human condition - I can only imagine how much we might benefit by his art once we can commune with the true spirit behind it

Rusty Kjarvik said...

I'm utterly reminded of the life of Vincent Van Gogh, reading this after watching, "Lust for Life"

your language speaks -

"Those oceans of unending patience and practice
That it takes to channel the muses...Stuck in this tortured artist’s body..."

great appreciation for your direction.