I do not feel old

Being Jean Lawrence’s lover in Midsummer

The humor, the passion, the history, the sad events

Of the Bard’s imagination

And experience

Combine to make the great literature

That people around the world study

For a long time I had an affair with Russia

That was only broken by Katyn

I am terrible at language

But I would love to read S. in Russian

As translated by Pasternak

The only work allowed for him

By the terrible Stalin

But here in the walls of the library

We are encircled by pictures of a president

But pay no attention

Just watch the meeting unfold

From banter, from reports, from Arthur’s budget

The quotes go around

To find who is ill, distracted, have foreign duties

Then to the play itself

Here we are in our own little Globe

Crying out the Holy words, sentences, speeches

Some from well worn volumes read time and again

Some from the Reading Corner

Editions with every word explained

Sponsored by the Folger Coffee company

We wonder where the children under 40 are

Have they lost their will for the best

Through mindless military games sluiced down with Mountain Dew

Instead of barley water

One must give English teachers credit

For swimming against the river of electronica

Will every young one be reading on kindle?

And not sacred papyrus

Such cold plastic

And wires from China

Which has not produced theatre from the red chamber

Though in poetry—mountain sublimity

Perhaps, it is in little groups like ours around the planet

We keep Bradbury’s secret

And preserve it for a better day

When the only war we know is in Henry V

And all our schools will be well funded

After the Pentagon’s collapse

And even Rockland Shakespeareans will translate

Our beloved into Pushtun and Dari

That which now is wasted on war

A thought for peace from the world’s greatest dramatist


Kendall Merriam is the City of Rockland’s Poet Laureate.