A lost Shakespeare poem*

Let kings and generals discourse, here is my space.
Every subject’s duty is the kings, ‘tis my vocation,
And ‘tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation.
They say miracles are past, but hope looks forward yet.

All the world’s a stage, and each man in his time plays his part.
So you, good yeomen, show us here the mettle of your pasture.
How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty,
In thought and judgement how express and admirable.

Rightly to be great is not to stir without great argument.
In enterprises of great pith and moment to thine own selves be true,
And it must follow, as the night follows day,
We have done the State some service.

Then must you speak; tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow.
We have kissed away Kingdoms and principalities
And as the sun breaks through the darkest clouds
So wisdom shines. A plague on both your houses.

*Note of explanation:

I wrote this ‘poem’ as a satirical comment on a furious debate with the executive officers of an Advisory Council which reports to the Premier, and an Advisory Board, which reports to a Minister.

The argument was about the form of words to be used on the relevant Government Department’s web site to describe the two advisory bodies’ respective functions. The issue at the heart of the conflict was to give due deference to their respective levels of ‘seniority’ and precedence.

It took an inordinate amount of time and soul-searching, negotiation and word-smithing until I managed to come up with a form of words that was acceptable to both parties.

Although the catalyst was the specific conflict described above, the ‘poem’ is about the nature of service and role of those whose task it is to help achieve their leaders’ visions and implement their policies for the benefit of our society. It is also a satire on the growing trend of process versus outcomes in areas of public endeavour.

The parody is made up of various lines from about 15 different Shakespeare plays, massaged to suit, with invented linking material in the same style.

Then I wrote it as an original Japanese haiku, following as many of the traditional ‘rules’ as are possible in English (see next post).

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