In Competition 2822 you were invited to submit an extract from a scene from a contemporary soap opera (television or radio) as Shakespeare might have written it.
The idea of filtering an aspect of popular culture through the lens of the Bard for comic effect is not a new one, of course. A recent example comes in the shape of a George Lucas-Shakespeare mash-up from Ian Doescher, who recasts the Star Wars saga as a five-act play in iambic pentameter: ‘In time so long ago begins our play / In star-crossed galaxy far, far away.’
In a closely contested field, Paul Goring, Anne Woolfe, Caroline Macafee, G. Tapper- and George Simmers (‘Tomorrow and tomo-rrow and tomorrow,/ Creep on these petty tales from day to day) impressed. The prizewinners pocket £30 each. The bonus fiver goes to W.J. Webster for a touching soliloquy from EastEnders’ Dot Branning.
How winter now doth creep into my bones;
My fingers stiffen and my eyes grow blear.
I have lived long enough: the flesh that holds
My soul in earthly bonds is wasted now;
My blood is whey and gives but little heat
To ward against the ever-closing cold.
Each night I count and count again my sins,
The stains that nothing in this life can cleanse.
Too often have I hid my eyes from truth
To give forgiveness where no right was mine.
And I too easily have lent my voice
As pipe and conduit for untested tales.
As I judged others so must I be judged
And bear the verdict on that final day.
But I stand ready now, abject, to face
My Lord and Maker and to hope for grace.
Go bind thou up yon dangling wos-thur-names.
Put thou thy hose in it, o aged man.
Thou art forever…
Would that it were so!
Alas, mine age devours my words, and leaves
vast voids of where-be-nothings, empty porringers
Now hush, you twain. Thy breakfast, Joe, was done
long since, so prattle not of emptied bowls.
Mine is too full: our dishes pile to Heaven
and I alone to cleanse the dirtied stack.
Aye, women’s work, and only closed in Death.
And Noel comes apace — perchance thy last.
Eddie! thou knave that mock’st thy Sire’s grey hairs!
Look to thine own: we’ll have no wassail here
unless thy turkey-coks be all be-daddled,
dressed and drawn. Go to: think on this day
and mind The Bull pulls not thy willing feet.
Scene: The Sea Rover’s Inn
Pray tell me, Tyrone, is there any trace
Of Tracy whom I once called mistress mine?
The rumour is she seeks to sport with you
And conquer with the valour of her tongue.
She is a shrew that won’t be tamed, so flee.
Her rosy cheeks conceal a rotten core.
She wages war with smiles and blandishments
Using her will to wend her way to mine
And I am limp before her hot intent.
I’ll drown my troubles in forgetful ale
And take myself away.
Too late, too late! The lady enters now.
Well met, dear father of my child, perchance
You’ll grant this merry maid a little wine.
If only wine could sweeten your foul tongue!
The mother of my child, a wanton witch,
A little less than maid and more than mad!
Chorus of Seamstresses:
Confined within this crown’d Lancastrian street,
We break our fast with barms, then briskly ply
Our trade with three-ply gussets, gossiping
In gusty discourse; cobbles then we cross
To join our fellow-players (save the few
That now are charged at law, therefore cannot
Appear), foregathering inside the bourn
To which all rovers do return, and at
That fount to find who frolics in whose bed,
Or who cuckolded whom. What comedies
Of errors, much ado, what labours lost
Are written for us by our bard today!
Unless we from the bar shall hear: you’re barred,
Then all our Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays too,
We may sit snug until the lights are snuffed,
And all to little mint-balls shall be chuffed.
A horse, a horse, bring me my Bartleby
And certes he will ease my final hours.
Father, be not afear’d. Fie on,’t ah fie!
What boots it that you suffer such great pain
If recompense be lacking? ’Tis your due:
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
O that her too, too cruel heart would melt,
Her mercy fall like as the rain from heav’n.
Stiffen the sinews! You will be avenged.
The game’s afoot, Grey Gables on this charge
Will answer lawyer Usha’s full demands.
(enter one disguised as a Hallowe’en witch)
Much better days for Ambridge I foretell
As surely as my name is Lynda Snell:
No further harm will visit Joe until
The River Am doth flow up Lakey Hill.
No. 2825: picture this
Rossetti used to append sonnets to his paintings, e.g., ‘Found’ (for a picture). You are invited to supply a poem, not necessarily a sonnet, for a well-known painting of your choice (16 lines maximum). Please email entries, wherever possible, to email@example.com by midday on 20 November.
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