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Out Damn'd Spot

I thought it was the hormones

Raging from within

I thought I’d need a sawbones

To cut away my skin –

But now I know the acne

That hit my face so hard

Were no more than the hackneyed

Hack-words of the bard.


I spent my teen years leaking

And missed out on the thrill

Of girls who were not speaking

When I wore Clearasil

Why was I red-raw, pimply?

I felt each day like death

But now I know it simply

Meant  they’d read Macbeth.


The girls that ducked my sonar

Flounced off because they knew

The Two Gents From Verona,

The Taming Of The Shrew

I thought I was an amateur

With an angry, spotty face –

But it was those pentameters

That stopped them giving chase


Dear God, I really trust you’ll

Take Shakespeare by the nose

Revenge me for the pustules

And burn his Folios –

And curse the girls, defiant,

Who filled my heart with grit

Because they’d read the giant

Of spotless English Lit.



Click here for an Independent story


Click here for Bill’s New Statesman research


Click here to buy Bill’s poetry collection Ringers


Out Damn'd Spot

In a paper entitled "Is Shakespeare to blame for the negative connotations of skin disease?", British researchers from the universities of Nottingham, Leicester and Derby claim that Shakespeare reflected the Elizabethan obsession with flawless pale skin, and while he “may not have accepted Elizabethan society’s negativity towards skin disease, it can be argued that his success has led to its perpetuation”.

(Independent report on the conference of the British Association of Dermatologists)



3 July 2014


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