To Shakespeare

Michael Peach

O Bard of Avon,
Even you cannot console me
In this age of genetic engineering,
Organ transplants and atom bombs.
For, just as the flesh of today’s Narcissi
Will not grow old before death o’ertakes them,
So these lines – e’en if published – will not live on
When I, together with the great globe itself,
Compounded am with radioactive dust.

No, to evoke
A relevant consciousness
I must recall those drastic days
Preceding the fall of Second Temple Israel;
The decadent Hellenistic Jews,
The suicidal Zealots,
The apocalyptic Messianists –
Culminating, perhaps,
In one called Yeshu.

9 April 1992

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