What Horatio Saw

Happy World Poetry Day 2016!

I decided to write a poem in homage to the bard himself.

What Horatio Saw

I hear it crawling in the distance–
fog so dense, my throat gets wet.
I join my friends upon the battlement
to see the unseen they’ve twice met.

They beseech me, Bernardo and Marcellus,
to join them in these dark minutes,
to accept waking beliefs they’ve stretched–
pushing their reason to its limits.

It was just a cloud mixed with a shadow,
surely, could not have been more than that–
the mind is captive to such fantasies,
from a helm on the merlon or flutter of bat.

But scarely after the piercing stars
burst light from within the firmament
here floats, above the castle stone,
that which flowed throughout their argument.

From the Illustrated Shakespeare, Robert Dudley

From the Illustrated Shakespeare, Robert Dudley

With his solemn eyes resting on us,
the former Majesty of Denmark stands.
They bid me to speak to this familial ghost
clad in his selfsame armour, shield in hand.

I confess, I feel my body tremble
and I’m stifled for a moment,
Until my sensible eyes confirm,
though I wonder of its intent.

“What are you, that has come here now,
to fill our minds with waking dreams?
Tell us, fair warlike form, I charge thee, speak,
Is all of this just as it seems?”

But as the words quiver from my own mouth
the deceased King turns and stalks away.
Whether he missed my words entirely
or heard them and ignored, I cannot say.

For moments we wonder at our affair,
then the King once more appears,
but as he’s nigh about to speak
the cock crows morning and sends him clear.

As shadows fade and light does breathe,
the good world waking in orange glow,
I think of my friend, the son of this ghost,
I must tell him what I’ve come to know.

Might this apparition portend an ill?
The stars streak fire over Denmark mud
and light up a concluding calm; soon
Elsinore might slicken with dews of blood.

-B.W. Gladney


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