Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Saturday poem: Shakespeare By Carol Ann Duffy

Chetna Pandya, Bharti Patel and Meera Syal in Much Ado About Nothing
Chetna Pandya as Margaret, Bharti Patel as Verges and Meera Syal as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, part of the World Shakespeare festival. Photograph: Tristram Kenton for the Guardian

Small Latin and less Greek, all English yours,
dear lad, local, word-blessed, language loved best;
the living human music on our tongues,
young, old, who we were or will be, history's shadow,
love's will, our heart's iambic beat, brother
through time; full-rhyme to us.
Two rivers quote your name;
your journey from the vanished forest's edge
to endless fame – a thousand written souls,
pilgrims, redeemed in poetry – ends here, begins again.
And so, you knew this well, you do not die –
courtier, countryman, noter of flowers and bees,
war's laureate, magician, Janus-faced –
but make a great Cathedral, genius, of this place.

• This is a new poem, written to mark the close of this year's World Shakespeare Festival.

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