So Many Henries

Thou Upstart Crow, glove-maker’s son,
what a world is this you’ve made?
What right have you to break our hearts so,
foundering nightly on the reefs
of your tempestuous stage?

How could you know so well
our joint and secret griefs,
the schisms national, long jars
of York and Lancaster,
and of our several selves.

From the heavens to the cellarage,
blood’s old parade:
the tinchel closes on the victim,
brothers plot harm, war
issues from a mother’s rage.

Son who has killed his father,
father who has killed his son –
all Falstaff’s merriment
can’t wipe this from the page,
nor right the wrongs we’ve done

to those we love. Do we learn,
rent by these scenes,
or is it bootlessly we burn?
If this whole Globe goes up in flames,
then God have mercy on the man  
who seeks to build it up again.

from The Tempest Prognosticator (Salt/Random House Umuzi, 2011), ? Isobel Dixon 2011, used by permission of the author

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