Wednesday, December 16, 2020

For I Lov’d the Man

Of all the mountains of Shakespearean
Criticism upthrust in libraries,
The outcrop that is most fascinating,

Distinctively human in appearance,
Almost as if it could breathe, is Jonson’s,
Who wrote, I lov’d the man and doe honour

His memory. His memory! Who else
Could cast a cold eye on Shakespeare’s Caesar
While fondly recalling his friend, the man

Who composed that Caesar and assassins?
For now forget the disappointment when
Realizing no facts are forthcoming

About that man, past Jonson’s opinion
That he was “honest” and “gentle.” Forget
The missed opportunity for Jonson—

An anecdote, a detail, anything
Intimate about the life of his friend.
Just come back to that, For I lov’d the man,

And shiver and consider what one phrase
Like that from a first century rabbi
Or a mono-rhyming Arab poet

Who lived in the days before the first Hajj
Might do for some of our other idols,
Whose names we pray or blaspheme. Not Shakespeare.

Jonson knew the man, loved him, chided him,
And stayed on this side of Idolatry.
Love for a man spared us another god.

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