THE AUTHOR'S PREFACE TO THE READER

Sitting once in a very studious posture
and henceforth falling into the clutches of melancholy
I assumed the role of concubine to the empress. How many hours
went by until the pigeons left the roof of the den I cannot tell
but procrastinating ill becomes me as it transpires
so let's get on and get this over with.

With my paper before me
I began composition of a song to be uttered in perfect solitude
at times of extreme distress. But distress in the world must be
leavened by humour, to which end a buffoon enters stage right
carrying with some difficulty a baby elephant which then explodes,
covering rows A to F in blood and guts and umbrella stands.

My pen in my ear
seems to have caused a slight infection which in turn
has led to 85 per cent deafness on that side. When Penelope comes
into the story in Act XIV Scene VIII her diatribe is unreliable
because I couldn't hear clearly but the general drift is pretty clear:
she's pissed off about what happened to the bag of sparrows.

My elbow on the table
would not be surprising but the absence of arm is alarming. Every
artist has an intention concealed somewhere about their person
and in this half-light it will take you a more than usually long time
to find mine. Issues that confront the ordinary person
are no concern of your author, which is a clue.

And my cheek on my hand
reminds me at the end of life of my hand on Penelope's cheek
under the drooping eaves of the drying house. Always
the sound of workmen working disturbs the quiet hours I needed
to write down what I thought about everything
so perhaps what I offer you now is ill-considered and imperfect.

 

<

HAMLET

A village without a church of its own
belonging to the parish of another village or town.

1.

My heart is inhabited by some brand of snow fox
but I don’t think animals care who they live with
so long as food and drink and absence of cruelty
is the deal. Sunshine seems to be as much like
a fiddler's music as anything else, and when
the owls I bought yesterday afternoon have found
their wings it'll be pretty much business as usual:
entrancing girls will be welcome but won’t come.

Fortune, as much a fiend as a vixen, or so I've learned
from my inextensive and inexhaustive researches,
goes round and around in circles or egg-shapes
and everything turns out pear-shaped, which is curiously
interesting, don’t you think? The bear just shipped in
from perhaps the Himalayan foothills (I don't know)
is finding his way around:
I wish he wouldn’t eat the books;
I wish he wouldn't ravish the slavey;
I wish he wouldn't do anything.

2.

Conflicting accounts of what I just wrote are coming in:
(shall we rest for a while
and listen to a Sting record?
Oh okay, fair enough.)
some people hold that while Ophelia is sprawled bawling
at the bottom of the stairs I'm the psychoanalyst
who doesn’t give a damn about how she feels; others
contend that what I saw I only think I saw and what I said
I didn't really mean when I said it. Well, Horatio,
there's a damn sight more to this than meets the eye;
at least, that's what I think I've come to believe.