Romeo and Juliet: A Cautionary Tale


William Shakespeare spent a night
With a Lady, ’twas the fairest Wight,
And Romeo and Ethel (the Pirate’s Daughter)
Became the Play that he thunk it oughter:
‘E got rid of Missus Porter, who with Tybalt, washed ‘er feet in soda water,
And ‘e added a fine old Friar,
Full of many a potion and many a Spell
That had a tendency to go to hell,
And from the stuff of Comedy,
Old Bill ‘e made a Tragedy:
Aboot the Montagues and Capulets,
Which down the ages has produced in any number of grammar school productions with any number of young would-be Romeos and fair Juliets,
Who have to be educated to saw “wherefore art thou Romeo”, and not “where art thou Romeo”,
Because the student has to know,
That the former means “deny thy father and refuse thy name”,
Whereas the latter means “if there are any stalkers out there, I’m game”.
Usually the master is well advised to select for Romeo a boy who is gay or shy or maybe both,
Because if he isn’t he’s gonna get Juliet pregnant during the rehearsals before she can say forsooth,
But what the hell,
Let’s all cheer and yell,
For good old Bill,
Whose plays butts in seats will fill.

Edward G. Nilges 18 Dec 2011. Moral rights have been asserted by the author, see if they havenae oor I’ll roar oop yer lobby.

With apologies to Ogden Nash, and Thomas Stearns Eliot (“o the moon shone bright on Mrs Porter/And on her daughter/They wash their feet in soda water/Et ces voix d’enfants, chantant dans la cupuole!”- Waste Land.) American English, properly used, is the best thing ever happened to British English because without Ogden Nash’s flip disrespect for a fixed as opposed to harmonious metre, and without Tom Eliot’s midwestern-expat unique voice, English poesy would have dissolved into its margins and become ONLY Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, two fine poets, but not representative of world English.


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