the fools above ground and
compareth it with that of the dead beneath
the sloping graves
Verily, art they not the same?
Scorneth they the warm fireside hearth and
the red wine that stirreth their words
Cold, cold and thrice cold was
the burial ground at Kiltearn
More life, methinks in fallen stones than
In the wits of the living
Exit and entrance there was but one –
an unkissed and sighing gate
Players? In truth a happy band of three –
nay, four if thou countest the angry moon
mayhaps four hundred if thou countest
the awakened dead
Did e’er Shakespeare cometh to this lonely ruin
to glimpse the sea through these trees
to stand upon this grass, this moss
This day – this cold, cold day, verily he cameth
Not him, but an echo of his words
proclaimed through other men’s lips
Fat crows standeth still on winter trees
The eye of heaven shineth not as
the rough wind whistleth round the church
Draw hither, fair Titania
Oberon, bloweth away thy contagious fog
Thou art not forgotten
Thy story lives this day resurrected
by your new lovers
The event was “Poetry in Motion”, organised by Creativity in Care. It was the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare. Poets and writers all, we met not on some blasted heath, but at Kiltearn Burial Ground to walk a while and listen to some of his famous speeches. Not a sunny day, not a warm day, we sat on picnic chairs nestled in blankets while our hosts acted out Romeo and Juliet and tested our knowledge of Hamlet and Macbeth.
Of course, we all had our parts to play. Fat crows, frozen roses and the angry moon dragged us from our seats into the world of “let’s pretend”.
It seemed almost obscene to laugh as loud as we did, in such a quiet and tranquil place. Pranksters and players on a patch of sloping ground, we chanted our way through Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 11 Scene 1, striking a fat crow pose when the moment came.
It wasn’t a day for being outdoors too long and we found shelter in a café. We compiled a list of words describing our outing – COLD was there in capital letters. Free to use the words or not, and encouraged to mimic Shakespeare we set about writing something.
I could tell by the banter that they were a group that knew each other well. I’d met some of them before at other events organised by Creativity in Care. They laughed together.
It won’t be the cold cemetery that I will remember today, or the words of Shakespeare spoken among the gravestones. It won’t be the picnic chairs or the fat crows we pretended to be. It won’t even be the poetry.
The laughter among good friends – that’s what I’ll take from the day.
I think Shakespeare would have laughed too.