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Shakes Rattle and Roll

My name is Billy Shakespeare. I have a thousand faces.

I pop up in your archives on a very doubtful basis.

I may have had a wingco ’tache and garland on my head,

But there again I might have been a man of gingerbread.


I may have worn a hairpiece or a codpiece made of armour,

And I may have been a charmer with a part-time job in drama,

And I may have been a drinker who became a shocking dribbler,

Or even (ever been had, mate?) a very blatant scribbler.


I might have written comedies like Hamlet or Macbeth,

In which the hero sees things, and then has a date with Death,

In which the joke is on the bloke who likes soliloquising,

Or anyone who sees the trees come over the horizon –


Were they all the rage, my stage noir pages pulling in the money?

Or did the locals pack my plays because my clowns were funny?

Or did I buy up scriveners to leaven the monotony,

While having little side-bets on the wacky world of botany?


I left my heirs a message. I said, No need to be ravenous –

Get yourselves some sinecures as literature examiners,

And if you want your progeny to hear the tills ker-ching,

Invest in sweat-shops turning out some three-inch bits of string.


Yes I am Billy Shakespeare, a shadow, most endearing.

Perhaps I am a baldy with a very fetching earring:

I gave my kids this precept, you can call it my last stricture:

Make sure you never publish Billy Shakespeare’s proper picture.


Click here for a BBC story





Shakes Rattle and Roll

Country Life published an article by Mark Griffiths alleging that Shakespeare was the model for a drawing in a botany book. The editor of Country Life called it "the literary discovery of the century".

May 21 2015


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