What the sad and passionate gay player of Avon avowed
With vivid exactness, eloquent variety is, as immense
As the sea is. The sea which neither the humble nor the proud
Can damn, control or master. No matter what our sense
Of existence, or whence we come or where we hope and seek
He knew us all before we were, he knew the strong, the weak,
The silly, the reticent, the pious, the powerful, the experience
Of fortune, sudden fame, extremes reversed, inevitable loss
Whether on land or sea. He knew mortality’s immortality
And essential uncertainty, as he knew the land and sea.
He knew the reality of nobility.
He saw the cowering, towering power of treachery.
He hated the flakes and butterflies of lechery.
And he believed, at times, in truth, hope, loyalty and charity.
See: he saw what was and what is and what has yet to come to be:
A gentle monarch murdered in helpless sleep.
A girl by Regent Hypocrisy seduced.
A child by Archduke Ambition stabbed and killed.
A loving loyal wife by a husband loyal and brave,
Falsely suspected, by a handkerchief accused,
Stabbed by his love, his innocence, his trust
In the glib cleverness of a self-hating knave.
Look: Ophelia lolls and babbles in the river named Forever,
Never Never Never Never Never.
Cordelia is out of breath and Lear
Has learned at last that flattery is clever
That words are free, sentiments inexpensive, vows
And declarations worthless and priceless: at last he knows
How true love is sometimes speechless, always sincere.
He knows—and knows too late—that love was very near and dear.
Are all hearts and all girls always betrayed?
Is love never beyond lust, disgust, and distrust?
See: it is clear: Duncan is in his grave,
While Desdemona weeps beneath the willow tree,
Having been granted little time to weep, pray or rave:
Is this the truth, the truth with is one, eternal, and whole?
Surely the noble, the innocent, the gifted and the brave
Sometimes—surely, at times—prevail. Yet if one living soul
Is caught by cruelty and killed by trust
Whence is our consolation about or before the grave?
Ripeness is all: the rest is silence. Love
is all; we are such stuff as love has made us
And our little life, green, ripe, or rotten, is what it is
Because of love accepted, rejected, refused and jilted, faded, raided, neglected or betrayed.
Some are defeated, some are mistreated, some are fulfilled, some come to flower and succeed
In knowing the patience of energy from the dark root to the rounding fruit.
And if this were not true, if love were not kind and cruel,
Generous and unjust, heartless and irresistible, painful to the savant and gentle to the fool,
Fecund and various, wasteful and precarious, lavish, savage, greedy and tender, begetting the lion and the lamb
The peacock, the spaniel, the tiger, the lizard, the chicken hawk and the dove,
All would be nothing much, all would be trivial, nothing would be enough, love would not be love.
For, as there is no game and no victory when no one loses
So there is no choice by the choice of love, unless one chooses
Never to love, seeking immunity, discovering nothingness.
This is the only sanctuary, this is the one asylum unless
We hide in a dark ark, and deny, refuse to believe in hope’s consciousness,
Deny hope’s reality, until hope descends, in the unknown, hidden and ultimate love,
Crying forever with all the others who are damned and hopeless that love is not love.
Gold morning, sweet prince, blank night has always descended and has always ended,
Gold morning, prince of Avon, sovereign and king
Of reality, hope, and speech, may all the angels sing
With all the sweetness and all the truth with which you sang of anything and everything.