My epic!!!

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Moderators: Saturn, Malia

My epic!!!

Postby Saturn » Mon May 08, 2006 11:20 pm

This is one which will probably make you laugh [not intentionally :lol: ]

A bit of Juvenilia for you....

It's my most ambitious and 'epic' poem.

You may need to take half an hour if you don't fall asleep :lol:

I wrote, and rewrote this [again and again and again] over a period of about three years, on and off from the age of 20/21 to about 24.

There are many cringeworthingly bad rhymes in there but I was young, naieve, passionate and excitable in those days okay :?

I was obsessed by Byron and I think just getting into Keats so there is also a touch of St'Agnes Eve and Isabella in there.

The idea of writing this piece came from the fact that Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet was based on Arthur Brooke's poem 'The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet' (1592) which was itself a translation from the French of a short story by the 16th-century Italian writer Matteo Bandell.

Having read parts of that poem I found it rather flat and uninspiring and *horror* passionless so I thought 'what if I wrote a new version of the poem, or simply a narrative poem based on the story but with all the passion and poetry of Shakespeare's play'.

My ego got carried away with this idea and here is the result:

I'd be interested [if anyone actually DOES read all Four hundred and twelve quatrains] to read your opinions on my erstwhile magnum-opus :lol:

The Tragedy of Romeo + Juliet.

A narrative abridgment.

The woeful tale about to unfold
Has, by more worthy pens,
Been many times better told
(To me their genius inspiration lends).
So, please excuse such unschooled verse,
From a humble, amateur descent.
Pardon this lowly, uncouth converse
Sweet reader, for no offence is meant.
Of famous memory in Verona town,
In times and many ages past,
Two opposèd families of high renown,
Did fatal dice with Fortune cast.
From their seditious flesh were sown
Seeds of civil strife and brawl,
Which caused both sides to atone
For ever raising arms with gall.
But, ere the gaping rift was healed,
That bled Verona’s youth so dry,
Fate’s deadly pleasure was sealed,
One o’ each house was marked to die.
Of these factions, Montague was one,
An ancient and most noble line.
Unlucky Romeo was his son,
Born under an inauspicious sign.
The house of Capulet was the other
(Dignity and no less honour did bear).
Lovely Juliet was the pride of her mother
With whose beauty none could compare.
Oft-times these foes did meet,
In winters cold, or summers sun.
With icy looks and scorn they’d greet,
Then all Verona’s citizens were undone.
These rash, foolish, uncivil young men
Had thrice disturbed the gentle peace.
‘Twas decreed if quiet was upset again,
Violence, with their lives would cease.
Verona’s Prince, grave and wise,
Greatly concerned for his diseasèd state,
Fearing his ancient realm’s demise,
Resolved to end their antique hate.
Montague and his loving wife
Were anxious for their wayward boy,
Who lived aloof, a shaded life,
Bereft alike of pleasure and joy.
Benvolio, his coz’ did they enlist,
To lighten his leaden, heavy mood,
And to banish the cheerless mist,
Wherein his absent mind did brood.
Romeo he found deject and low,
Struck by the cureless, leveling shot
Of the infant archer, Cupid’s bow,
All senses slain with love’s sweet sot.
Days, he said passed now so slow,
Tedious Time had such slothful gait.
Hours were weary, and filled with woe,
That no employment could abate.
For alas! to him was love denied
From she that he adored so much.
Passionate advances she oft did chide,
Shrinking away from his loving touch.
News was abroad of a joyful feast,
Merry old Capulet was the host.
Invited were the mightiest, and the least.
Of this amusement did Benvolio boast,
To heal his cousin’s wounded heart,
Silence his unprofitable, distracted sigh,
To dislodge Eros’ stifling dart,
Freeing his long imprisonèd eye.
He beseeched to cast for beauties new,
In others of Verona’s youthful set.
But Romeo this could never do,
Idle sport such sadness cannot whet.
He swore his love no equal had.
Of his constancy, he had no fear.
Nor would he sway on the gad,
Convinced his mistress had no peer.
Another young lord, to give his due,
Was County Paris (of prospects good).
He to old Capulet earnestly did sue,
To marry the fair Juliet if he could.
Cautious of her unspotted youth,
He bid him defer his eager suit,
Not to be so candid or uncouth,
Promising yet his merits to repute.
Two years were needed to waste
Until the nuptial day could be set.
For, early marriage taken in haste
Can often end in bitter regret.
Juliet’s mother, unlike her lord,
Hoping for a very profitable match,
Hied to Juliet, forthwith to board
And, her wishes to her dispatch.
Said her youth was in springtime bloom.
That even she at like tender years
Bore a babe within her womb
(As did many also of her peers).
Entreated her at the dance that night,
To survey young Paris’ stately air,
His patrician looks (a maid’s delight),
Certain they’d prove a charming pair.
Juliet was cautious (at the best),
And, wanting to put mother at ease,
Said her eye’s favour would only rest,
(With consent) on he that best would please.
Anon, Apollo’s rays were spent,
All was draped with Night’s sable shroud.
But this was a time for merriment,
For drinking deep, and music loud.
Many had traveled far and wide,
To sup at this famous fest.
Visors various did their faces hide
(A proviso at the host’s behest).
Mingling amid this jovial crowd,
Romeo and his comrades came.
Still walked he under a dismal cloud,
Unfit to dance, with love was lame.
He had a dream, he related, yesternight
(Whose fearful portents couldn't be ignored),
Warning him of his own perilous plight.
This vision dangerous he did accord.
Worthy Mercutio, his bosom friend,
Had these symptoms oft before seen,
Attributes that only one way did tend,
To that crafty Mab, the Fairy Queen.
That, in a stately coach at night,
Plants a dream in every mind,
Spawning visions of horror, or delight,
Or, sometimes both of these combined.
At last, Romeo resolved to go,
Leaving his life in the hands of Fate.
Clotho her measured thread did sew,
Calculating destiny’s terminal date.
Now the even’s revels had begun.
Acquaintances renewed, or newly made,
As Fortune’s fickle yarn was spun.
Others, short-lived, did as daylight fade.
‘Midst the party-going throng,
Romeo drifted listless, and alone.
Heedless of wine, and of song,
His key was of much somber tone.
But, as Pheobus’ shafts pierce through
Cloud-filled skies after storms demise;
His heart alighted on pastures new,
Eyes blazed by a beauteous prize.
All former love suddenly dispersed.
Old, shallow scars now were healed.
Quenched was love’s parching thirst.
A lethal bargain with Death was sealed.
For, beauty’s apotheosis to him appeared.
An earthly angel had swooped into view.
Unparalleled love thoughts were reared,
At sight of this paragon of woman new.
Venus, when herself did absently graze,
And was by Adonis’ allure smote,
Was not so rapt, or as long did gaze,
As Romeo, did on her, enchanted dote.
Goddess Athena, the gleaming-eyed;
Her lustre famed was put to shame.
Romeo favoured the mortal’s side,
Even Juno herself would not disclaim.
‘Twas Juliet she whom I mean
Who’d so captivated Romeo’s stare.
Love’s new, yet uncrowned Queen,
Of cherubic face and radiant hair.
He swore his heart had never before,
Loved half as much as then.
Another he could not love more,
Nor ever feel such love again.
So, in an amorous overture,
Without a thought, or pause for cue,
He seized that hand, so fair and pure,
And began, e’en then his love to woo.
Juliet, wholly taken by surprise
By this imprudent, amatory advance;
Felt love’s burning passion rise,
As with Romeo she exchanged a glance.
Romeo, in blind and eager haste,
Pleaded for a tender kiss
From this lovely maid so chaste,
And, submitting, they tasted love’s bliss.
So, to his lips did Juliet yield,
Nor did she blush or quail,
As he, a gentle kiss did wield,
Which, stirring her could not fail.
The fledgling courtship was rudely cut short
By Juliet’s faithful, but prying maid.
Abruptly, love’s course did she abort,
Tho’ troubles in love none can evade.
Her mother, seeing her plans go astray,
(And detecting in Romeo an attested foe)
Resolved to set Juliet on her chosen way,
Before love’s roots could more fixèd grow.
So, with her nurse, did Juliet depart
To her mother, and her husband-to-be.
But Romeo could not bear to part,
For none felt deserted more than he.
Then he sunk into greater despair
(His life’s love having just met),
Knowing they were destined not to pair,
As she was the daughter of rich Capulet.
Juliet was likewise desolate and deject,
When she became likewise aware,
All hope of love was dashed and wrecked,
Since her lover was Montague’s son and heir.
So, love newborn was harshly shorn,
Two hearts so young, too soon divided,
Leaving both sorrowful and forlorn,
All because parental loyalties collided.
But Romeo, now could never leave,
Even when the night had ended.
Love’s infection he could not cleave,
Nor quit ‘till passions needs were attended.
Amid the then assembled guests,
Was one, who’d followed love’s course,
Partaking not in games or jests,
But building up a venomous resource.
This was Tybalt (like the feline Prince),
Juliet’s cousin, and Romeo’s sworn foe.
Filled with rancour, none could convince
Him, to let them be and quietly go.
This base trespass he could not brook.
His uncle yet tried to abate his rage.
He feigned this intrusion to overlook,
But swore, in time, his enemy to engage.
Initially, resigned to his grievous plight,
Romeo did reluctantly remove
But, suddenly, he took off in flight,
Either to die, or his love to prove.
For his heart with Juliet remained behind.
With a desire too strong to be controlled,
His captivated love no chains could bind,
A passion too fervent to ever withhold.
Love guided his step and led his eye.
With wings of desire, he scaled the wall.
Wrapped in night’s cloak, none could him descry
As he followed love’s persistent call.
So, into the enemy’s nest did he steal,
To catch a glimpse of his heart’s desire,
To feast his eyes on a celestial meal,
A dish prepared by the Promethean fire.
With trepidation and fear he did hide
Lurking amid that hostile garden,
With love alone, his solitary guide,
The design did his resolution harden.
When concealèd in shadow’s inky guard,
His fair love he suddenly did espy.
With bursting joy, he found it quite hard,
Not to be bewrayed, with a lover’s sigh.
So all-seeing, yet himself unseen,
He heard his mistress’ pensive debate,
Her pondering what did names really mean,
And cursing her cruel, malevolent fate.
Said Romeo’s title was his only sin.
If this he would freely deny
(Her vacant heart would easily win),
She would likewise parentage decry.
For a name is not a tangible thing.
The songful lark would retain its fame,
Would pleasure alike continue to bring,
If newly dubbed with divers name.
If Romeo would his house disown,
Juliet would too her family renounce,
To follow her lord, and him alone,
If his love he’d faithfully announce.
Romeo at this, took a chance,
Stepping boldly forth into the light.
So abrupt was his bold advance,
That Juliet shrieked at his sight.
When the shock of this did subside,
Eager to put Juliet’s mind at rest,
Romeo to her did softly confide
The purpose of his intrepid quest.
But, fearful, she was still alarmed
That her lover had risked so much,
Was anxious he might be harmed,
So precarious was his delicate touch.
If discovered by any of her kin;
(Without shriving time allowed)
Killing him, they’d account no sin.
This oath, all Capulets had avowed.
This, however, did not Romeo deter.
One look from her would make him sound,
Arming him with courage enough to dare
His fiercest enemies, if there he was found.
He conceived ‘twere better for him to die
By the hands of his most hated foe,
Than without her love to expire and sigh;
A death prolonged by superfluous woe.
For such a rare, opulent treasure
He would plunge endless fathoms deep.
For just a fleeting moment of pleasure,
‘Cross hoary mountains he would o’erleap.
Juliet, conscious now of his full intent,
Was flattered by his zealous praise.
Only his ill prudence did she lament,
But careless words no regret erases.
For the words that he did o’erhear
Were true utterances of her inner heart,
Truthful, honest, in every way sincere:
Sentiments echoed on Romeo’s part?
For lovers’ oaths may prove untrue.
Fickle, are they as winter’s sun.
Could she his heart, as his tongue construe,
Her affections would be easily won.
To confirm his loyalty she could trust,
By the pale moon he ‘gan to swear-
That his steeled devotion would not rust,
But, like the tide, her movements pair.
Juliet found this pledge unsound-
His love proving mutable as the moon?
That differs in it’s monthly round,
Which, seeming fixed, changes too soon.
This idle vow she could not believe,
Unless sworn on the icon of her soul.
Unless on his life, he should swearing leave,
And keep his love under strict control.
For their love was as a seed new sown,
Out of season planted, not yet mature,
That, with time, will be fruitful shown
And winters cold, in strength endure.
Withdrawing from Romeo’s gentle touch,
Juliet arose, feigning to leave,
Fearing she had heard too much,
Begging him depart, to leave her grieve.
He felt too harshly cast aside,
That, to his, her love was weak,
Perchance shaded by her maiden pride,
Or veiled by a disposition meek.
So, a faithful promise did he implore,
A loyal, solemn pledge, like his own.
‘Twas a heartfelt plea she couldn’t ignore,
So genuine and passionate was his tone.
Seeing now, that his love was sincere,
Not a trifling or foolish thought,
In showing affection, she held no fear,
To give the merchandise he so dearly sought.
The enraptured lovers fell into a trance,
By an o’erpowering tonic from the god of love,
A mesmerising spell that love’s properties enhance,
That no mortals erstwhile had failed to move.
While locked in the clasp of the other’s arms,
They were to the world in general heedless.
For love’s sharp blindness so disarms,
Making all seem frivolous and careless.
Alas, this blissful embrace could not last,
As, from within they heard a cry.
When with a lover, time speeds too fast:
They knew imminent separation was nigh.
Juliet’s nurse, having lost her ward,
Was pained, and highly perplexed.
She feared the choler of her lord,
And knew her lady would be sorely vexed.
Like atoms by nature’s bonds compound,
The lovers found it painful to part,
But had the sure solace of being bound,
With perdurable chains to another’s heart.
The cry of “Juliet!” again was made.
A brisk reply she forthwith did make.
Entreating the while Romeo t’do as she bade.
She told him, if his love was no fake,
His purpose was to matrimony bent,
Their love would a union conceive,
Making all days hitherto spent,
Seem counterfeit, fashioned to deceive.
But, since their interview needs must end,
She beseeched him to part ‘til a fitter time,
When, to him, her will she mayst send,
And circumstances were more in prime.
Romeo was left pondering, joyous in love,
And cursing time for his weary stride,
Hastily, Juliet appeared again above,
With the eager leap of a hopeful bride.
Asked him what o’clock on the morrow
Should she her messenger speed?
Pheobus’ swift car she fain would borrow,
Even Phaeton’s fate she did not heed.
“The hour of nine” was the prompt reply.
“I will not fail”, said Juliet fair.
But, she reflected, with a heavy sigh,
How in the meantime would she fare?
For in a moment may pass an hour,
An hour holds many a year.
Even love in time, may decay and sour.
Lovers cleft apart no reason will hear.
But part they must, and quickly too.
Exchanging a last, and lingering kiss,
Trading parting words, all too few,
They desired to prolong that moment of bliss.
Finally, with tear-strained faces each,
And bloodless, and gaunt, lean cheeks
(Symptoms of that corporeal leech,
That from love, its sanguine pillage seeks).
They finally drew themselves asunder,
Until the fingers of rose-tipped morn,
Revealed her blaze of golden splendour,
And the day nine hours had worn.
At the very break of dawn that day,
Romeo, impatient, with time did race
And, not to brook the slightest delay,
Forthwith went to cite his amorous case.
A certain learnèd priest he found,
In a philosophic and pensive mood.
Expostulating great truths profound,
Of our potential for evil and good;
That, like a lowly earthbound plant
Is stored with properties, good and ill,
Munificence and malignance therein encamped,
That with divers parts may cure or kill.
Friar Laurence he was hight,
An adept in the ways of man.
Gifted with perceptive sight
(Odysseus to his fraternal clan).
Romeo’s apparel, rough and unkempt,
His grimed face, his weary stare,
Signified that night he had not been spent
Under Morpheus’ slumberous care.
Knowing of old Romeo’s many distresses,
His latest unrequited, frustrated passion,
Thought this rude visitation nothing less
Than troubles of this selfsame fashion.
Asked if with Rosaline the night had passed?
This accusation Romeo did utterly deny,
Saying his former love had been outcast.
No longer for her did he groan or sigh.
For, he had been gravely pierced anew
With a more powerful and fatal dart,
A love unconditional (known to few),
Had mutually wounded their joint heart.
With this, the friar was confused and aghast;
That a love (once so dearly sought)
Was so easily from the heart outcast,
When eyes by tutors new were taught.
Were young men’s fancies led by a glance?
Grown not from the heart, but the eye?
Or won, by a brief nighttime dance?
Was juvenile love transient as a sigh?
Romeo swore that his newly beloved
Was not of stock like his other,
They did equally each other covet.
To Juliet he would prove a constant lover.
Their whole path of love he would bewray,
If the Friar would his request perform,
To bind them in marriage that same day,
For his unsettled heart needed reform.
At first, the Friar was grievously perplexed
Knowing this was a hazardous romance.
Montague and Capulet would be sorely vexed.
And neither would take a favourable stance,
Then, vile rancour may breed once more,
Disrupting newly born peace in infant sleep.
Or, it may lead to quiet as never seen before,
Begot of a union of love so pure and deep.
Love’s fiery brand may all hate consume,
Dispel the age-old malice and hate.
In it’s place would sweet amity resume,
Which in Verona had been absent of late.
So, his young companion he agreed to aid,
Any way he could his happiness attain.
Thus, careful plans they together made,
For Romeo, Juliet and all Verona’s gain.
Elsewhere, on that portentous morn,
Romeo’s friends were puzzled and confused.
Left by him forgotten and foresworn,
Where he could be, they much mused.
Benvolio and Mercutio found him not,
Despite calling at his sire’s abode.
Therein a letter for him they had got,
(A taunting missive to incite and goad,
From Tybalt as a provocative bait)
Hoping Romeo to entice in fight.
He sought to satiate his seething hate,
Proving he brooked no affront so light.
On Romeo’s part, Mercutio was uneasy.
Since, blinded by love’s dazzling blaze,
He was like to be now weak and queasy;
Effeminate made by Cupid’s arrow graze.
For Tybalt, his valour was known well;
His excellent feats of rapier and sword;
Hot was his temper, not easy to quell.
A duel with him could Romeo ill afford.
‘Tis said when summoned to attend,
The Devil straightaway doth appear.
So, Romeo emerged, honour to defend,
Knowing not how much he had to fear.
Surly Mercutio, still in moody disdain,
Mocked Romeo for his discourteous slip.
Buoyant and joyful, this didn’t give him pain,
He merely rebuked him with a ribald quip.
To their delight, Romeo seemed much improved.
With his bounding step and sparkling eye,
Clearly, his deep depression was removed,
But none could ascertain or surmise why.
Mercutio was especially full of glee,
To see his friend no longer aggrieved,
Restored to what he once used to be
His true nature revealèd, so long deceived.
While thus their friendship was reconciled,
Came one who beckoned of Romeo to speak.
But her true purpose was beguiled,
Into her real designs, none could peak.
They thought he with a bawd did talk,
So ‘gan to berate the poor lady much.
But, Romeo with her aside did walk,
Assuring them that she was none such.
In truth, ‘twas Juliet’s confidant and aid,
Come to learn his intentions to her mistress.
Warning him, promising to severely upbraid
If she did suffer any willful distress.
But Romeo's ardour this would not quell.
Told her that if means could be contrived
For Juliet to steal to Laurence’s cell,
Therein she would be wed and shrived.
So, the fretful nurse parted content
That her lady would be justly served,
Also, that Romeo was virtuous in intent,
Yet still, she was somewhat reserved.
When to Juliet she did appear,
She was troubled with an aching back.
Yet Juliet began to press more near,
Stretching her patience like a rack,
With impetuous queries after her lord.
What said her newfound love?
That godlike man she so adored,
Who surely was begot of Jove above.
But the nurse was much too weary
To reply to her excited requests.
With spent limbs, eyes heavy and bleary,
She perplexed her with enigmatic jests.
Saying that Romeo was a goodly man,
But not one she would have preferred.
Tho’ not since Hyperion as the world began,
Was one found with him to be compared.
Juliet saw that she really was o’erwrought.
To make amends she ‘gan to soothe her pain.
But still she just as fervently sought
All reports that to her love did pertain.
The nurse at this was petulant and sore
And filled with indignant haste,
Said if she wanted to descry ought more,
The best way to learn herself was to chase,
For tired she was from her risky chore
And wished to rest her tired legs.
Never would she run errands more,
If duty and love so impatiently begs.
Yet, seeing Juliet bound to Love’s chain,
Captive until certain tidings did unfold,
In order to spare her further pain,
Her joyful news she straightaway told;
That if she plans could make
To repair to Friar Laurence’s abode,
Romeo would gently her hand therein take.
Thus, she unburdened her happy load.
Helios’ chariot reached his halfway mark,
The forkèd crossroad of this sorry tale.
But, for now the let the trumpets hark,
Not yet, must all moan and wail.
For this was the happiest hour
Of these two most unfortunate lovers.
No foul blot this blessed moment could sour,
Tho’ bitter fate aye hides in shadow covers.
When the gentle Friar their hands did tie,
Their hearts already were wedded before.
But now, they were contracted to die,
Grim as Orcus’ bride past Acheron’s shore.
The Holy Father some advice did yet bequeath,
That all things good, taken to excess,
Would surfeit joy and forthwith bereave,
Leaving but the ruins of happiness.
That day abroad, all was a scorchd plain,
As Titan came too near the earth,
Stifling in their beds the newborn rain,
Smothered before their hour of birth.
Sweating under the Sun God’s ray
Were also Mercutio and Benvolio.
With sweaty brows and little to say,
They foresaw a heated fray with their foe.
For, when earth and sea begin to boil,
Men’s blood does likewise seethe and rage.
And, as the sea, does foam and make a coil,
Tempers inflamed are ripe to engage.
So, just as certain as the rise of day,
Came quarrelsome Tybalt and the Capulet crew.
They hoped to but amuse with this play,
But, when met, conflict was likely to ensue.
Tybalt was first to make a move,
Calling on Mercutio with bold report.
Said that he was like to prove
A base beggar, to with Romeo consort.
This small offence was enough to unsettle
Mercutio’s already strained nerves,
Which, like a boiling, o’erheated kettle
Burst the confines of his inner reserve.
Like a bull by matador cruelly smote,
Mercutio waxed scarlet with malice and hate.
With rebuking terms (here unfit to quote),
In loud, full voice did he Tybalt berate.
Benvolio, mindful of the Prince’s decree,
And wishing to avoid a disgraceful scene,
Urged him no more to speak, but swiftly flee,
So, unsoild peace would retain its sheen.
But anger, as an adder pricked, strikes back,
Isn’t easy is to subdue or quell.
It hisses and then prepares to attack,
Even so did Mercutio fret and swell.
As he was ready this insult to avenge,
Directly Romeo hurriedly intervened.
This deferred his calamitous revenge,
Destiny’s course now was cleared.
Tybalt now had in his blinkerèd sight
His chosen combatant for his hateful war,
In which he’d put all his wrongs to right,
Then from the Law’s grasp safely soar.
To Romeo he directed his steely glance,
Called him a villain, the bane of his soul.
His words pierced like a barbèd lance,
Leaving honour wracked on a craggy shoal.
But, attired in love’s placid weeds,
Less disposed to partake in wanton affrays,
He sought Tybalt’s anger to appease,
Heated anger released never pays.
Such peaceful methods could not prevail,
For Tybalt was one not to be deterred.
When choler surges like a tumultuous gale,
Reason in this state is never heard.
With brutish fist he struck Romeo down,
No remorse or pity would he find.
He sought his o’erflowing fury to drown;
To compassion or mercy, he was blind.
Yet, Romeo was still ready to forgive,
Said he loved him better than before.
If any love or grace in him did live,
For another’s dear sake, he loved him more.
This emotive plea fell on deafened ears.
Torrential floods no barriers can restrain,
Ineffectual as drenching rain on tears,
Or wounding the dead by strife or pain.
Mercutio rued such martyr-like resignation
From one of such honourable descent.
Thought it foolish and base capitulation,
When submission was taken to this extent.
So, headlong into the fray he rushed
To restore the sullied pride of his friend,
While onlookers grew silent and hushed.
The consequences none could comprehend.
Romeo could not allow this shameful tryst,
Urged Mercutio from such infamy to refrain.
To forbear the path of the ruinous red mist,
The giddy madness that usurps the brain.
Foreseen decrees had a divers fate ordained.
While Romeo held Mercutio’s vengeful hand,
Tybalt’s furious weapon was vermilion stained;
A sanguinary blemish on the conspicuous sand.
This heinous deed much misery would bring.
The hateful blade was dropped with disgust
As Death hovered by, unfolding his wing,
Aye an onlooker at spectacles of bloodlust.
Mercutio did not yet his hurt reveal,
Jested ‘twas but a harmless scratch,
But knew from death there’s no repeal,
‘Tis a fatal breach no repair can patch.
As overpowering Demise stole his being,
He struggled his deadly curse to express.
Before supping oblivious waters unseeing,
With his final words he did profess:
“A plague o’ both your houses”
Was his ominous, curt declamation.
This in them a dread fear arouses,
As Aeolus mustered his zephyran nation.
The firmament erupted with tempest fierce,
The clouds shattered with Jove’s blinding stroke.
Their soul’s again those chilling words pierce,
Terrible foreboding in them did evoke.
Mercutio’s breath with this expended,
A mournful gloom settled on the scene.
His brief thread of life had ended,
Shorter than it should have been.
Not since heroic days of antique past,
When Achilles wept for Patroclus slain,
Did tributary tears flow so fast
As Romeo drenched the corse in vain.
The guilt-ridden, startled offender
With his party swiftly withdrew,
Leaving the crime as yet tender,
And civil discord reborn anew.
Romeo, the while could not be consoled.
Again, he clasped his friend to his breast,
Trying from death his soul to withhold,
To Hades’ lord he vainly did protest.
But, like that famed Argive chief,
Most celebrated for Ares’ trade,
His terrible vengeance would be brief,
Dread punishment Tybalt could not evade.
Meantime, Juliet lamented her absent lord.
Entreating the Gods when Romeo was t’die,
Allot him the prime site the heavens afford,
That all the stars with envy would sigh.
Breaking abruptly from the desolate sight,
Romeo stirred to requite his murdered friend,
Doing a deed future happiness would blight.
Poisonous hate with his love did blend.
Eventide came, his mortal enemy he espied.
Charging upon him in a torrent of ire,
All reason and sense left he aside,
Hoping to purge sorrow with rage’s fire.
He cared not for laws or men’s decrees,
Only Mercutio’s soul calling for retribution.
He resolved his restive spirit to appease,
Destroying the murderer as a blood ablution.
The struggle was brief, but soon resolved.
A moment’s weakness lost Tybalt the game.
Romeo’s hate almost immediately dissolved,
And pangs of remorse as rapidly came.
Guilt, like a bullet rattled the bone,
Leaving him shaken with levelling fear.
No words he emitted but a soft moan,
Dropping a piteous, doleful tear.
Grim Nemesis had done her worst,
Revenge in him did no more reside.
Hereafter now, his life was cursed,
Future promise was blighted and died.
Like Oedipus, his crimes were exposed,
He conceived the magnitude of his fate.
All paths to happiness now were closed,
Vain repentance now was too late.
Then to the unfeeling winds he cried,
Unfolding his burgeoning anger and fear:
“I am fortune’s fool and by Gods’ despised”
His remonstrance fruitless, none could hear.
Balthasar, trusted servant to his lord,
Saw the time’s immediate threat.
Told him to use all haste he could afford,
Surely, all was not forlorn as yet.
Still reeling with shock did he flee,
Riddled by his palpable guilt and fear.
No hope for the future he now could see,
No consoling words his heart could hear.
The incriminating scene was none too clear.
The proof was in the blood-drenched loam,
Of Tybalt’s dishonourable, drenched bier,
Far from the tomb of his ancestral home.
There was nothing to do but leave,
He knew the law would now pursue.
To longer stay would nothing achieve,
And Furies swiftly demand their due.
Thus, the gory scene was open to view,
The hideous deed was to all exposed.
Tho’ Tybalt’s death grieved but a few,
Some demanded the guilt be disclosed.
Those of his immediate kith and kin,
The heads of the whole Capulet clan,
Knew not, or cared for his previous sin,
The crime from which this’d all began.
Lady Capulet appealed to the noble Prince,
This odious crime to swiftly redress.
No temperate fury, no words did she mince,
Required “blood for blood”, nothing less.
Seeing Romeo’s comrade standing thereby,
She now divined the culprit’s name.
Demanded of him wherefore and why
Romeo her nephew’s life did claim.
He, trying to defend his wrongèd friend
Said Romeo not ignobly did proceed.
Justice her sword to him didst lend.
Moreover, Tybalt by provocation had lead.
‘Twas he who first blooded murder’s child,
Him who’d incited Romeo to requite.
No senseless rage had him beguiled,
Nor did he slay with envy or spite.
Yet this did not her rancour appease.
She saw only his partiality for kin
And listened not to his defensive pleas.
Families hide truth (affection’s sole sin).
Montague could see the threat to his son,
And tried to defend his reckless moves.
Romeo, said he, had only the law begun,
His murderèd friend any guilt reproves.
But the prince would not hear his appeal,
Nor to the opposed side concede.
Romeo’s fate the law would seal,
If found on Verona’s soil he would bleed.
Banished by the law’s dread proclamation,
Romeo cowered low in Laurence’s cell.
He foresaw no hope of resolution,
His wounded bosom in tears did swell.
No way for the guilt and pain to end,
Than present death, ere law’s redress.
Only this would his sorrows mend,
To his “ghostly father” did he confess.
Then again hid his head to lament,
Banishment was but a death in life.
If only his deed he could repent,
He’d see again his forsaken wife.
The Holy Father tried to make him see
That it was futile to wail and grieve,
That none were fortunate more than he,
Sith the law had granted him reprieve.
Of sorrow’s cup he‘d quaffed the full,
A drunken sea poured forth his eyes,
Presaging lachrymose death so cruel,
As tides of self pity in him did rise.
Laurence saw the jeopardy of his mood.
He chided him for his lack of wit.
Couldn’t he see this punishment was good,
Fortune’s dice his number had hit.
Suddenly, they were thrown in dismay,
An unwelcome rap sounded the door.
Romeo feared for his life to stay,
Terrible fear his countenance wore.
Dread turned straight to sudden relief.
A friend, it was newly arrived.
‘Twas the nursemaid of Juliet’s grief,
To inquire of her husband deprived.
Romeo asked in turn of his absent bride.
What did she do? How did she fare?
At this the nurse wept and cried
“Alas Sir! tears her bosom does wear”.
Romeo felt now guilt’s sharpest fang.
Repentance seemed a futile decree,
On which his great offence to hang.
His punishment, an insufficient plea.
Sharp his name to Juliet would be now
As poison, or the keenest blade.
Sorrowful death was all it did endow,
Criminal now, this name he upbraid.
Sought in him where this malady did reside,
So he could quit it with ready knife.
Self-censure no offence doth hide
He would tarry not to end his life.
But the friar stayed his desperate hand,
Giving him some hopeful advice:
“Hie to thy tristful bride as planned
Her sorrow comfort, her love entice.
“But stay not until the watch begins,
For thou then cannot to Mantua cross
Safely. Therewith repent thy sins
While time will thy offences gloss”.
From the Nurse some comfort was given;
A ring, new-lighted from her lady’s palm.
A faithful sign Juliet had him forgiven.
This proved the most potent balm
To raise his hopes and his love reprise,
Steeling his heart against his fears.
This sage counsel now his heart applies,
And he wiped away the grateful tears.
In her mournful, sable shroud,
Juliet pined in her darkened room.
Lamentation lay thick as a cloud,
Bemoaning her cousin and exiled groom.
Torn by the conflict ‘twixt love and hate.
A dear kinsman had fallen in affray,
By the caprices of her lover’s fate.
Joy and tragedy allied in one day.
Can the heart such strife sustain?
Was her lover but as a fair bound book
Whose contents proved another Cain,
When under the cover she did look?
Could such a canker hidden lie
‘Neath the rose’s petal shield?
Could duplicity reside in that eye,
Which such truthful looks did yield?
Wherefore had he struck so near,
Spilling the blood of her nearest kin?
What penance could his crime wipe clear?
Can even such love conquer sin?
Despite his crime, she loved him still,
And longed again to see his face,
To solace bring and end the chill
Holding her frozen heart in place.
She repented her hasty reproof,
For damning her husband as a foe.
He was truly just, to say the sooth.
If not Tybalt, Romeo’d be laid low.
From the corner of her teary eye,
She saw what her heart most sought.
Great love and hate did fiercely vie,
A Titanic conflict inside her fought.
But, love triumphed o’er bitter hate.
Diaphanous spite melted at his gaze.
She rushed to embrace her restorèd mate,
Lost in blissful tears with love’s amaze.
This was a moment they’d never known,
Love’s joyful promise was wholly fulfilled
In its fullest splendour, its brightest tone.
Passion freely reigned; love’s crop was tilled.
Love in full flight, desire running free.
Such joys unbridled rarely appear.
They glimpsed what, alas, could never be,
A happiness fleeting, bought all too dear.
Aurora now extended forth the ruddy tips,
Nature’s chorus charmed the day to life.
The sky, as a celestial body in eclipse
Danced with light, fecundity was rife.
The rival suitor of this beauteous maid
Knowing not all this, impatient was grown.
Fearing his matrimonial hopes might fade,
(Since by nature to insecurity prone)
Hied to old Capulet to further his claim.
Now he saw that the time was ripe
A speedy marriage her grief would tame
(Especially one of the lucrative type).
So, he bid him prepare Thursday next
When suitable mourning had been performed,
(To him a needless, tiresome pretext)
Maids for marriage had been formed.
To their Sire’s will they deferred all choice,
For they doubtless would choose so well.
Their heart was given nor say nor voice,
Father’s of yore oft’ did enforce or compel.
He charged his wife their daughter to prepare,
Against this day of presumable joy.
Which robes, he thought she’d happier wear,
Than sable weeds (wealthy suitors annoy).
Hyperion smiled on the happy sheets,
Which wrapped the sleeping lovers close.
Nature’s best strain the morning greets,
And dawn startled the peaceful repose.
Romeo shook off Sleep’s warm embrace,
Waking as one still rapt in a dream.
He scanned that glowing, placid face,
Brighter than Apollo’s strongest beam.
Memory, swifter than Mercury’s heel
Struck fear, shattering the dreamlike view.
A sudden terror of death did he feel,
Banishing love’s, airy, transient dew.
For he knew, this love would ne’er last.
It was but sweet as a summer rose,
Blighted by frigid winter’s blast,
Love’s progression did Fate oppose.
His rememberèd crime now heavy weighed,
As weary as Atlas he bore the load.
No visible mountain of guilt displayed
Marking the sentence under which he rode.
Yet, Juliet still lay by his side
Who, in sleep more fair did seem,
As well befitted a happy bride,
‘Thralled, by a frail, futile dream.
Then Beauty awoke, in its way,
Glowing radiant charms and smiles.
For Romeo alone shone her ray-
Which almost harsh destiny beguiles-
Bids death hold off his horned blade,
The parasitical worm disown its task,
Reprimand decay and waste upbraid,
To save the costly funeral cask
Seeing her beauty and her grace,
So bright e’en at the break of day,
His heart quickened to it’s wonted pace,
Importuning him to longer delay.
Juliet did this sentiment resound.
Night, she said, still abroad did reign.
A nightingale ‘twas, no lark did abound,
Dian her twinborn sibling did feign.
“Stay awhile in my warm embrace,
Do not fly away so soon.
No foemen press, no enemies chase,
Cannot you stay with me ‘till noon?”
Leaving now proved doubly hard,
For he lived solely in Juliet’s eyne.
The immediate future he did discard,
As on’s mistress’ lap he lay supine.
His inclination then preferred to stay,
To defy fate’s portentous decree.
Come death, or come what may,
He dared any doom he could foresee.
But Juliet recalled that dreadful risk,
Suspended above love’s turbulent sky.
Clouds were massing; he had t’ be brisk,
Tempestuous destiny stalked on high.
She urged him to flee with all speed,
Since haste was now urgently required.
Prompt action then became his creed,
His former tranquillity all but expired.
As if hasting their immediate separation,
The nurse intruded, distressed by worry,
Interrupting their familiar relation,
Urging Romeo to vacate, and hurry.
For Dame Capulet was approaching nigh,
To break to Juliet the wonderful news
Of her imminent arrangèd marriage tie,
Planned without her consent or views.
Romeo pulled on pell-mell his attire,
While the nurse fretted the evidence to hide;
That their covert love may ruin or mire,
This secret tryst could unwittingly confide.
So Romeo she lead to the hallowèd site,
That balcony scene of the inaugural date.
This, a parting now sees and perilous flight,
A bitter division eluding the tribal hate.
Juliet, did then sudden panic feel,
As her love seemed to slip away.
She needed firm reassurance to seal
His troth, in case his love did stray.
For Romeo was her morning star,
Bright Lucifer fallen, a blazing orb.
Leaving now as Pheobus’ ebbing car.
The fading shafts she would absorb.
He, like resplendent Iris’polychrome arch,
Embellished her sky after murky rain.
Or to desert traveler, afflicted with parch,
Precipitous showers lathing the main.
He assured her these ponderous woes
Which, now seemed piled Olympus high,
Beset by adversity and hostile foes,
Would be as pleasant jests in times gone by.
Romeo then descended, his leave to take.
Juliet unwitting, quaffed her final draught
Of heady love’s bittersweet heartache,
Their vine nevermore to be regraft.
His parting no covert signs did show,
Death-like sorrow drained every vein.
Her aspect pale, nor smile or glow,
Bloodless mortality did sadness feign.
A prophecy Sybil-like, she then foresaw
Of dire circumstance and untimely grave,
Visions of a tomb’s constrained maw,
And unfortunate deaths too late to save.
She to fickle fortune did appeal,
Begging her to show herself true.
To spin her frantic, random wheel,
To confer better fate than hitherto.
Still hopeful, she withdrew within.
There sat her mother, full of glee,
As when an athlete the laurel doth win,
Basking in their glory and fame to see.
Despite the temporary unfortunate lull
In her long hoped and preferred match,
A profit from tragedy she sought to cull,
From failure’s mouth to triumph hatch.
This marriage would be a soothing balm
Healing the wounds of a kinsmans decease.
It would griefs tempestuous swell becalm
(And, of course, her parents greatly please).
She told her she must to Paris be wed
At Peter’s church on Thursday next.
To reason not with the heart, but the head,
To abandon her spurious mourning pretext.
This came unexpected, like a sudden pain,
Boring through to pierce the breast.
Such a doomed match made in vain
Would certainly founder if ill pressed.
For she was by Hymen’s bands combined
Formerly, to Romeo in honour and love,
Whose treasures yet had not been mined,
Though blessed by rites of God above.
Juliet answered she could not wed,
She would not be a “joyful bride”.
Her mother withdrew, full of dread,
Bruisèd by her daughter’s pride.
Lord Capulet appeared, in full of hope
That his daughter’s woe would end.
That much better she would cope,
When wedding bands would sorrow mend.
Instead of a blissful, expectant bride,
He saw only a whining, defiant maid.
Not the picture of willing pride,
But the likeness of obstinacy staid.
This in him did a rage provoke,
Seeing himself foresworn and mocked,
Shamed and perjured by his own kinfolk,
His honour wounded, his ego knocked.
Juliet he seized, and violently shook,
Cursing her stubbornness and insolence,
Saying, this impertinence he wouldn’t brook,
Marking no words in her defence.
When anger sets on its wonted pace,
Like to a tempest raging in the air,
No words can calm; no bind can brace,
As fury expends and choler doth tear.
He thus seized on his passion’s theme.
Told her to Paris, she would be wed,
Or to anyone else that he should deem.
She was but as chattel he had bred,
Like goods, he would exchange at ease.
He would leave her to starve and rot
If his will she didn’t satisfactorily please,
He’d disown and acknowledge her not.
How could he foresee the tide of grief
That his abusive torrent would unleash.
This was but Autumn sorrow’s first leaf,
Woeful the hateful sermon he did preach.
Lying distressèd on tear stained floor,
Juliet quaked to think on her fate.
The terrible doom she now saw before,
Forced to marry one whom she did hate.
How could she be betrothèd twice
When to Romeo she’d pledged her troth?
She would again do ten times thrice,.
But could not be married to both.
Then she turned to comfort seek
In the bosom of her trusted friend.
In this time, troublesome and bleak,
Surely she would solace lend.
But no consolation from her came.
She thought the marriage was for the best,
Since unlike to Romeo, this held no shame,
And Paris with civic honour was blest.
Besides, Romeo in banishment lay,
Threatened with the penalty of death.
This faithfully, in earnest she did say,
Spewing venom unseen in every breath.
For when a confidant false doth prove,
Their every word does a poison seem,
That truth to deceit could remove,
Fidelity seems but a fantastical dream.
With heart broken and friendship dead,
Juliet could now no succour forsee.
Only sorrow in the future did read,
Death promised the only chance to be free.
She was in a wasteland of treachery,
With only one oasis to slake her thirst.
Like one drowning in an empty sea,
Sighting land would’ve perished first.
But then one face, virtuous and kind,
Emergèd from the pit of her despair,
As a cogent balm purged her mind,
From predatory vultures gnawing there.
‘Twas that gentle friar, caring and wise,
That’d ministered on that happy hour.
Surely he would emit no lies,
Being so fearful of a higher power.
Straight to him she hied amain,
Seeking compassion in her time of strife.
Needing counsel sage to keep her sane,
Or she was resolvèd to end her life.
But she found him not alone.
Him to whom she was a promised wife
(Further cause for which she did moan)
Seemed to further twist the knife.
Now this Paris was not bad, nor cruel,
But loved fair Juliet most sincere.
Her father’s blessing thus gave him fuel
To forward in his right appear.
So thither came he to seek advice
From the well respected friar,
His wisdom and holy benison to intice,
And to please the lady’s anxious sire.
From her father he had learned
That their marriage was to be soon.
Yet didn’t know how he had spurned
His daughter as the day does the moon.
Juliet, at sight of him did almost fly,
Thinking the friar had proved disloyal,
To ignominy avoid, with an impious tie,
To evade dishonour's irreparable soil.
‘T would be as to add a blazing brand
To smouldering Illium’s ashen corse,
Mocking sorrow’s already desolate land,
Piling perfidy on grief and remorse.
Seeing her apparelled in penitent dress,
Paris dared not to piety restrain,
But, to Juliet his claim did press,
From stealing a kiss did not refrain.
As an icy breeze of northern gale,
Pierces within and chills the bone,
Freezing the heart and countenance pale,
This kiss was implanted as on a stone.
A lover’s kiss is soft and warm,
A sign of affection, love’s true seal,
Which lovers take delight to perform.
But, where love is not, no pleasure we feel.
Nevertheless, Paris, contented did retire,
Happy that he’d won his beauteous bride.
Blinded, he couldn’t see the gaping mire,
The chasm, gaping between them wide.
Juliet then took the Friar within,
Charging him, if her woe was known,
To remedy her from this present sin,
For her mind desperate had grown.
The shame and suffering was too much to bear,
That, to die seemed a blessèd relief.
Without physic she would gladly dare,
To silence her sorrow with remedy brief.
Normally tranquil and unperturbed,
The Friar seemed lost and strained.
He could barely utter a single word,
Seeing Juliet so wild and pained.
Her despondency then turned to despair.
She a fatal instrument had aimèd
To pierce her pale bosom laid bare,
Tho’ her heart was already maimèd.
But the Friar quickly seized her arm,
Snapping death’s dire maw closed.
Thus, pulling her out of way of harm,
Inspiration answered the question posed.
In that abyss of endless sadness,
He saw a dim light on the horizon,
Which seemed every moment less,
Evermore promising to look upon.
With Juliet alone the solution lay.
If prepared she was to die,
Then there was a difficult way,
To give fate and death the lie.
He had knowledge of a potent brew,
Which supped, did counterfeit every eye
That speculates and can construe,
Showing so like death, none could descry.
If she would use all courage and faith,
And this cunning stratagem execute,
Could she but live a term as a wraith,
She may end this dismal dispute
That had put their two families in arms,
So long spleenfully venting their wrath.
This conceit may in time heal all harms,
Leading Verona to a peaceful path.
The fateful vial pressed in her hand,
Entreating her that none be near,
For success did on secrecy stand,
Discovery was his greatest fear.
Anon the rest of his plan he did reveal;
In Juliet’s state of death feigned sleep,
Letters to Romeo swift would he seal,
Imparting what this conceit would reap.
Meantime, Romeo in shelter secure,
Now looked forward with hope.
His love in exile did yet endure,
Now it remained but to cope.
Dreams favourable, too he’d had at night,
Wherein he was as one laid dead,
Yet revived was he at his Lady’s sight,
When, by nourishing kisses he was fed.
He accounted these things as augurs fair,
Attaining to future happiness and content.
O! Such deception does mischief wear,
Appearing oft in likeness of opposite intent.
Now our story draws near to its end,
Which hath so long been drawn o’er.
I pray you now all senses lend,
With as much patience as before.
Once having given her accord,
To wed Paris the very next day,
Juliet considered if she could afford
To trifle with death in such a way.
The Friar’s curious blend may not fulfil,
Perchance, it’s hazardous promised task,
Fashioned not for sleep, but to kill,
A property for which she did not ask.
Peradventure, to retain his good repute,
(Which suffering by this marriage twofold)
And to make sure the witnesses are mute,
Brewed a concoction, so the crime be not told.
Or, maybe what if it wore off betimes,
And she waked in the thin airèd tomb,
Encompassed with putrid smells and slimes,
Her mouldering kinsmen lodged in the room.
T’would doubtless turn her wits,
In desperate straits, she’d soon pine away,
Then fall to gambolling with a forebear’s bits,
And with marrowless bones distractedly play.
But, he had ever provèd virtuous and sincere,
And was a learned holy confessor beside.
What then need she have had to fear,
When virtue over vice did loftily stride?
So, with a last salute to her absent sweet,
She straight swallowed the cogent drink;
Hopeful of happiness when next they greet,
Of some other chance, she dared not think.
Quicker than herald Mercury’s heel,
The liquor o’erpowered her willing frame.
No pain, just sleepiness did she feel,
Properties matching death, bar the name.
In sleep, night is but a brief pause in day,
So, day resumed, as the lifeless reposed.
Futile the sun extended its bright rays,
Bootless, the warmth outside it bestowed.
Preparation for the Nuptials upset the morn,
Great confusion, much preparation did unfold.
Now best attire and gay mirth was worn,
When promising prospects, the future did hold.
The nursemaid was busiest of them all,
Employed in attending the marriage repast.
Also, the task was for her to Juliet call.
This latest merriment was not to last.
What tongue or hand can name,
Pronounce, or draw grief’s aspect aright?
My feeble powers this burden must disclaim,
Deepest sorrow impairs and deflects the sight.
Juliet was discovered still as she fell,
With apparent death printed on her face.
The beguiling drug had performed well,
Playing Death’s part with ease and grace.
To the audience of the unhappy scene,
She seemed as a bud too early shed.
Or a saucy frost on a youthful green,
Death and beauty too prematurely wed.
Friar Laurence, called upon to attend,
Kept up well the cunning deceit.
Juliet’s corse he would carefully tend,
Secretly to delude them with his conceit.
The grieved parents prepared the funeral rite,
While, oblivious, Juliet lay in suspended sleep.
Yet death’s sharp tooth in her did not bite,
And ruinous rot durst not intrude nor seep.
The dire ceremony was gravely discharged,
Solemn sadness was the prevalent mood.
The universal grief would soon be enlarged,
As mischievous powers began to brood.
While the mournful service was in mid-course,
Came one of Romeo’s attendants on the scene.
Viewing the lamentation and sad remorse,
‘Twas doleful to linger, futile to intervene.
Despondent, he sped, his master to recount
That the joy, the hope of his heart,
No more ‘mongst the living held account;
His dreams in reality would play no part.
With those three words “Juliet is dead”,
Romeo’s spirit was crushèd inside.
His soul ruptured in pain, his heart it bled,
Struggling to contain sorrow’s sudden tide.
Down to his knees he desperately fell,
Limbs disobedient and useless to display,
The misery and languor deep as a well.
Pain cruelly induces its victim to stay,
While it slowly twists its keen edged sword,
Mangling the delicate organs of sense,
Paralysing in unison the mind to discord;
From tear or moan, there’s no defence.
Prostrate, he cursed the unrufflèd stars.
Spending his passion on impervious spheres,
Those eternal globes, like malignant powers,
That seem to cause our greatest fears.
As if to conjure his mistress’ wraith,
Aloud his desperation cried her name.
Renouncing his life and his faith,
A grave resolution did he frame.
Steeling his heart to this extreme deed,
He prepared to play his final scene.
Astray from his resolve nought could lead,
Firmer than this he’d never been.
During this spectacle of grievous lament,
Friar Laurence, impatient, and full of fear,
Anxious of his plan, for intelligence sent.
A perturbing silence was all he could hear.
To Romeo his message had not arrived,
Perilous could be the result of such mischance,
If some means could not be contrived,
To speedily the important news advance.
He feared too Romeo’s impulsive mood,
That likely would be greatly distressed.
And much he feared that in his brood,
His precious life he would molest.
So urgent and precarious was the hour,
Mischief threatened both life and death.
But, despite all the Holy friar’s power,
Fates now measured their final breadth.
Celerity must be now his principal care,
Juliet would not long endure under charm.
She mustn’t wake alone in death’s cold lair,
And Romeo be thwarted from doing harm.
The gods in solemn counsel did convene,
Determining the end of this mournful tale.
Consort of Iove, heaven’s fair queen,
Approached suppliant, trembling, and pale.
Beseeching on her knees her wrathful lord,
To impede the ruin proscribed for the mortals poor.
Yet, to no avail she desperately implored,
For Iove’s will is firm, unshaken and sure.
His empery is no saturnine golden age.
Since Deucalion braved the swollen tide,
His sway has been strict and prone to rage,
From his dread sentence, no mortal can hide.
So despite the best of efforts of mankind,
The gods are deaf to mortals’ appeal.
Careless, they our temporal thread unwind,
Heartless are to what we mortals feel.
Damocles’ blade hovers ever on high,
Threatening us with its perilous descent.
The immortals their passions do not deny,
But on frail humanity, their anger is bent.
Romeo’s return was easily descried,
His erratic progress was well perceived.
This breach the prince would not abide,
His keen justice could not be deceived.
Not only his duty as defender of law
Aroused his zeal in relentless pursuit,
A kinsman’s cicatrice yet was raw;
Mercutio’s death further prompted his suit.
Desperately, the Friar sought to send
To Romeo news of his plans gone astray.
But on no messenger could he depend,
Fearful pestilence hindered them to stay.
But petty plague or widespread waste
Could not govern Romeo’s determined will.
His purpose was rigid, but in his haste,
Determination drove him forward still.
He knew of a ‘pothecary, poor and bare
Who in mendicant state blushed not
To sell illicit, and pernicious ware,
Sustaining him in his abject, sluggish sot.
So purposely thither did he repair,
And boldly demanded a poison swift
To cure the malady past all care
That on him the gods did inflict.
A potion as the Egyptian dame did require
When she supposed Antonius’ sorry end,
Or perchance a massy funeral pyre,
Such as Phoenician Dido did attend.
But the fearful wretch was very loath
To trespass the stern law’s command.
Sale of such drugs would break his oath,
And penalties dire would him reprimand.
But Romeo disregarded this bogus pretence,
And bade him look to his dejected plight
Which, the world, nor man gave no defence,
For pride is wretched poverty’s blight.
So, he reached into a clandestine hole
Bringing to light that damned draught,
Telling Romeo if swallowed whole,
Polypheme would e’en be levelled by its craft.
Gold for remuneration did he bestow,
A plentifull and copious display of pelf,
Which, in mankind corruption doth sow,
Avarice conceives for yet more wealth.
Romeo to him gavest the greater curse.
The poison he’d purchased was a healing cure.
Death was a physic for life, an affliction worse,
A wasting pestilence he could not endure.
Slowly, the forces of law assembled nigh,
Set on capturing and binding the exile fast,
Who, for breaking sentence deserved to die,
So hiding from justice would not long last.
Desirous of solitude for his final hour,
Romeo dispensed his trusted aide.
Two’s company, his design would cower,
If observed by one like to upbraid.
For secret deeds seclusion need
To avert society’s suspicious eyes,
Which frowns on privacy, and doth impede,
All done which they do despise.
Silent and calmly he approached the tomb,
That spacious mansion of the Capulet line,
Which lodged in its cavernous, fruitless womb,
The shrouded tenants supinely repine.
But lo! Other steps sounded ahead,
Violating this hallowed and sacred way.
Unwelcome was that profanèd tread,
And threatened his presence to betray.
Who had dared his reverence to molest;
To pollute this altar with impious stride?
Wherefore came here an unwanted guest,
Disturbing the sleep of his stillborn bride?
Coming closer, he now could perceive
It was noble Paris, in sables arrayed,
Coming as one much given to grieve,
As his visage pale amply portrayed.
His purpose it seemed was to deck the bier
With a fresh, becoming wreath of flowers.
To honour death by shedding a tear,
In tribute to its implacable powers.
Romeo challenged his greater due,
Disputing his certain spousal right,
Defied him with wild and desperate hue,
Frantic and terrifying was his sight.
Paris was much affrighted and aghast
At this apparition and countenance dire,
With foreshadowed death in its cast,
And the terrible gleam of’s eyes like fire.
To him, t’was surely some demon foul,
Come to defile his unwed betrothed.
So, onward he rushed with awful howl,
Yet the spirit nor blanched nor moved.
But, charged him at once to begone,
To “tempt not a desperate man” or
Not impute more sin his head upon,
By rousing great passions to the fore.
Paris heeded not this sage advice,
But made himself bold to contest;
Thereby, thinking with ire t’ entice,
Combating this sprite for his irreverent jest.
Woe to those who urge frenzy to arms!
For provoked, it waxes fierce indeed,
Very capable of most violent harms,
When reason errs and madness doth lead.
But, even as a simmering fire
And dying embers lose their threat,
So Romeo too, when fury did expire,
Bewailed, mourning vainly to forget
The deed in anger that he’d done.
Then, scanning the motionless form,
He seemed to recognise in him one
Likewise wracked by fortune’s storm,
A failed contestant for his lady’s hand.
He took up his fallen competitor’s corse
(For rivalries, after death no longer stand)
Gently laid him down in sober remorse.
In this figure of spent youth laid low,
Romeo seemed to peer in a glass,
Wherein his sorrow’s likeness did show,
Reflecting his pity when light did pass.
Into the Erebean darkness he did descend,
The blackness comforting his jaded eyes,
A soothing brightness to them did it lend,
Welcome, as to the owl nocturnal skies.
The dank and mouldering walls within
Seemed to teem with fecund decay.
A ghastly reunion of successive kin,
Celebrated death in their fellowship of clay.
Through the dim haze a light he descried
Dancing on the surface of the lifeless rot.
As if in scorn of decease, it defied
The spoil death’s victory got.
The illumin’d bier loomed dead ahead
Like some blazing torch of brilliant hue,
That in spite of death, burned a deeper red;
Fragrant the approach with beauty’s dew.
Calm ‘till now, Romeo melted, giving way
To the infinite emotion welled inside,
Which, erstwhile, resolutely frozen lay,
Now broke boundless as tempest’s tide.
For never did death look so fair
As Juliet enshrouded in’s firm embrace.
It seemed as if entrusted to his care,
He tenderly preserved her living grace.
Her face no tinct nor pallid cast did show,
Rather there was a poignant, radiant shine,
As to the inky night, the stars bestow.
So beauty and death did intertwine.
This wondrous disparity was most strang,e
Giving him cause for puzzling doubt.
Could death’s character so exchange,
Its very nature so turn inside out?
What sculptor could beauty remould,
Or suspend decay’s weathering tide?
Did Pygmalion such a living statue behold,
When breath the goddess did provide?
All this beauty was but painted,
Inanimate, unresponsive to human touch.
All colour was muted, fatally tainted-
Posthumous deceptions, designed as such.
This vision was insubstantial and mired,
For death doth cruelly trick and beguile,
Persuading the eyes what the heart desired,
Conjures artificial health and specious smile.
A shade remained in Juliet’s stead,
An apparition, of mortality deprived,
Such as hover around Styx’s eerie bed,
To an Acheron dweller was Romeo wived.
No lamentable tears or immortal power,
Such as evinced by heroes of yore,
Could bloom revive in this barren bower,
Nor motion to a passive form restore.
He wished in vain for Orpheus’ skill,
To charm the thrice-visaged cur asleep,
Placate fiery Pluto’s immutable will,
And lead his bride up hell path’s steep.
This precedent alas proves unsound,
For the Thracian minstrel looked behind,
Sending back his consort Hades-bound,
Leaving him forlorn to lament and pine.
A happier chance did Alcestis befall;
Who, great Alcides in pity returned to soil.
She, whom to prevent her hus
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Postby Credo Buffa » Mon May 08, 2006 11:41 pm

I'll have to wait and read this one when my head's not pounding quite so much as it is now. I'm quite impressed, though, simply by the sheer length! :lol:
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Postby dks » Tue May 09, 2006 4:33 am

Saturn! How many contemporary poets attempt verse of epic proportions?? Very few, if any.

Does anyone realize how difficult it is to rhyme for that long a time--and to rhyme well??

Bravo, indeed!!!

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Postby Saturn » Tue May 09, 2006 10:49 am

Credo Buffa wrote:I'll have to wait and read this one when my head's not pounding quite so much as it is now. I'm quite impressed, though, simply by the sheer length! :lol:

The length is the only thing admirable about it :lol:

But as you girls keep telling us guys - size ISN'T everything
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Postby Saturn » Tue May 09, 2006 10:51 am

I think this poem was a sort of endurance test for me - my own personal Endymion.

I had no idea it would be so long but once I started I just kept thinking what if I could carry it on...and on... :?

I think in this case my ambition o'erleaped my competence :roll:
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Postby dks » Tue May 09, 2006 2:24 pm

Saturn wrote:I think this poem was a sort of endurance test for me - my own personal Endymion.

I had no idea it would be so long but once I started I just kept thinking what if I could carry it on...and on... :?

I think in this case my ambition o'erleaped my competence :roll:

That is simply NOT so. :roll:
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Postby dks » Tue May 09, 2006 2:25 pm

Saturn wrote:
Credo Buffa wrote:I'll have to wait and read this one when my head's not pounding quite so much as it is now. I'm quite impressed, though, simply by the sheer length! :lol:

The length is the only thing admirable about it :lol:

But as you girls keep telling us guys - size ISN'T everything

'Tis true. It's not the size of the wand, it's the magic you make with it...*ahem* someone told me, anyway... :lol: :wink:
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Postby Saturn » Tue May 09, 2006 9:28 pm

dks wrote:
'Tis true. It's not the size of the wand, it's the magic you make with it...*ahem* someone told me, anyway... :lol: :wink:

:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby dks » Tue May 09, 2006 9:43 pm

Saturn wrote:
dks wrote:
'Tis true. It's not the size of the wand, it's the magic you make with it...*ahem* someone told me, anyway... :lol: :wink:

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'll bet the braver ladies would agree with me... :wink:
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Postby Saturn » Tue May 09, 2006 9:51 pm

So, seriously, did anyone actually read the whole thing?

I won't be offended if you say no.

I never actually expected anyone to :?

I don't think I could read it again myself :roll:
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Postby Malia » Tue May 09, 2006 10:11 pm

I haven't had the chance to give it a proper read, Saturn but the size *is* impressive ;) (You guys. . .putting dirty thoughts into my head!)

I also still have to write my Regency letter--which I *am* going to do. . .hopefully before the weekend.
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Postby dks » Tue May 09, 2006 10:58 pm

Malia wrote:I haven't had the chance to give it a proper read, Saturn but the size *is* impressive ;) (You guys. . .putting dirty thoughts into my head!)

I also still have to write my Regency letter--which I *am* going to do. . .hopefully before the weekend.

:wink: :lol:
I still have to write mine, too, Miss Malia.
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Postby Saturn » Wed May 10, 2006 9:39 am

Malia wrote:I haven't had the chance to give it a proper read, Saturn but the size *is* impressive ;) (You guys. . .putting dirty thoughts into my head!)

Sorry that was my fault - I'm deprived [read that word very carefully please].
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Postby dks » Wed May 10, 2006 2:42 pm

Saturn wrote:
Malia wrote:I haven't had the chance to give it a proper read, Saturn but the size *is* impressive ;) (You guys. . .putting dirty thoughts into my head!)

Sorry that was my fault - I'm deprived [read that word very carefully please].

Ugh. I know how you feel. Channel, channel, channel that energy, right?? I'm tearing up the treadmill at the gym these days...good thing the innocent lookers on have no idea just why... :lol:
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Postby Saturn » Thu May 11, 2006 12:25 am

Let's just not go down THAT road okay... :lol: :lol: :oops:
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