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How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?

You say that you’re hiring a digger

To lift up my crossbones and skull –

Are the fish that you fry never bigger?

Isn’t grave-robbing awfully dull?

You won’t find my Lear. My brain’s done a bunk –

Though I hear that you’re asking, did Shakespeare smoke skunk?


I can’t see the sense in exhuming

What’s left of me after my death –

Besides, you may find that I’m fuming

About Roman Polanski’s Macbeth

Not to mention the cut-splits of bloody Baz Luhrmann.

Don’t I ever get read now? Thought not. End of sermon.


Imagine the heritage income

A tour of my bone-bits would make –

If you think that that makes it fair dinkum,

Then you’ve made a colossal mistake.

I don’t like the fans. I’m an audience-phobe.

And no, I never performed in The Globe.


How can I stop you from stealing?

I can give you my second-best curse.

I am long in the tooth, but I’m feeling

That I’ve taken a turn for the worse.

Yes why don’t you use your new laser-sharp scanner?

Just don’t stage a meeting with Mirren and Branagh.


Richard the Third may well love it,

After years of my blackening his name.

For as for me, prof, I say ‘Shove it’,

Though I see that you’re here all the same.

Crack! Here you come, with my souls to awaken –

Why two of me? Well, this is Marlowe. That’s Bacon.



Click here for a Telegraph article


Click here to buy a copy of Bill’s poetry collection Ringers


Click here for Bill’s New Statesman research project






How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?

A South African academic, Professor Francis Thackeray, has called for Shakespeare’s bones to be exhumed, following the successful research into Richard III. According to The Times, he thinks we could discover new information about how the playwright lived, what he ate and drank, and whether rumours that he smoked cannabis are to be believed.

April 1 2015


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