Saturday, July 09, 2005

With Apologies to WS (2000)

This poem is only one of the many parodies of Shakespeare's famous 'To be or not to be' monologue from 'Hamlet, Prince of Denmark' which are availble on the net. Obviously, to appreciate a parody fully, you have to know the original. To that end, I have included below the full text of the famous monologue - and below that, I have written my version.

Shakespeare's original:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

My take on the matter:

To write or not to write
That is the question
Whether it is nobler in the mind of a student at an exam
To suffer without answering the foolish questions a teacher asks
Or to take imagination against a sea of ignorance
And thus by fancy quell it. To write – to sleep,
No more; and by a sleep to say we avoid
The headache and the thousand natural shocks
That blank minds are prone to. To write – to sleep;
For knowing naught what is there to do but sleep?
Ay there’s the rub.
For in that tortured sleep of blankness what answers may arise
And present themselves as solutions to the inward eye
Five minutes before the bell; so that waking we arise
And transcribe our sudden knowledge in ink to virgin sheets
But who would bear the trials of troubles sleep
When he himself might his answers take
From a neighbour, copying
Who would copy, being honest
But that our more knowledgeable neighbour
Being goodness’ self, doth (knowing or unknowing)
Present his paper in such a way
That we may copy with little strain
And transfer to paper the knowledge of his brain
Harmless parasites we
Harm our hosts not intentionally
Except perhaps in scoring more tan he
Thus do exams make blind copiers of us all
And thus do teachers, faces long drawn with fragile smiles
Find identical mistakes in many papers
Striking out the marks intended
The write in red ink beneath the lost score – ‘Copied’
Soft you now! An exam approaches
Teacher, judge us in a more favourable light
And remember we merely exercised our copyright.

The Atheist's Prayer (1997)

My friends, they find some hope
They say all will turn well
Their faith lies in ancient rituals
Te tolling of a church bell

I, I have no god
No father looks over me
The future lies in my hands
My will is completely free

No destined meetings are there
No miracles take place
Just luck, hard work and optimism
And an always smiling face
Get me through the day
And by night
When others’ secret prayers
Reach up high

My mind lies at rest
In deep sleep
Whatever happens
I will keep
My belief that I alone hold
My future in my hands
I will do my best
And leave the rest
To chance
But to no god’s grace
And so let me find
One day, that what I have become
Is by my efforts, and my mind.

Poetry (2000)

Was it meant to be
Obscure ramblings of your showcase mind
Or distant thunder mutterings
Of your brain grown old or senile philosophically young?

We use metaphors
Snatching infinite meaning from circumstance
And we are lucky if people who read us know them
Otherwise we remain obscure
Something for scholars and poetry students to decipher.

Who is poetry for?
Cathartic man or woman
Getting out something
May be a whim?

Or are you talking
To people you can’t see
Reading your lines by a light of their own

What you say is not your own
The words have been spoken a thousand times
Before and after. Agreed.

But are you talking?
Do you intend to wind about
With musty bylanes and grey corridors
Chuckling over anecdotes but you know

Or are desperately trying to express
What cannot or should not.
In your discordant harmony of words
Are you berating, trumping,
Planting your foot on and shoving away
Language? Upchucking your
I suppose rigid education?
Getting the real feel?

Why are we writing?
If for others
Can we as poets afford to be so obscure
In our references to private haunts

Or are we just expressing a perfect metaphor
And leave no footnotes to tell the story?

Why are we writing?
What do we mean?