When Shakespeare Wooed Amelia Lanier - Poem by Stephen Loomes
Emilia Oh you’ve come and was it to your liking?
William I envy those jacks that nimble leap, to kiss the tender inward of thy hand.
Emilia More poetry from Mr. Shakespeare, you need not be jealous of the keys (putting her hand forward) , you may kiss my hand.
William (Taking her hand tenderly and kissing it) Emilia, may I tell you that you are beautiful and that in the instant I saw your dark eyes I was changed forever?
Emilia You do not need my permission to declare yourself so, but it is at your risk sir, for I am married to another man.
William And I dear Emilia, am alike married and so we are alike.
Emilia Alike is not enough dear Mr. Shakespeare.
William Will you join me at the Mermaid for some ale and food?
Emilia You are persistent against all odds.
William With you I don’t know when to stop.
Emilia I’ll spare your misery and join you, it would be uncharitable not to assist a man in such distress, and yet I thought the doctor would cure you.
William I fear I have a complaint that is beyond medicine.
Emilia I trust that I am not the source of your present discomfiture Mr. Shakespeare.
William It is Will, if I may, Emilia.
Emilia Will it is, and will in overplus when it comes to pursuing a lady.
William Not any lady Emilia, just you.
They leave together.
(the light fades on the stage and the scenery is replaced with a four post bed in which when the light returns lie our two lovers)
Emilia Will you make me a lady William?
William Dear Emilia I will give you everything I own but we both are married and have last night broken our bed vows.
Emilia My husband has gone and I know not if he will return.
William My wife waits upon me at Stratford and I am foresworn not to divorce, it cannot be.
Emilia Then you have used me sir, as the Lord Chamberlain Hunsden has done putting me with child and then marrying me to a minstrel in his keep. The same minstrel who faithless, in turn, left me alone with my child.
William I will not leave you alone nor ever see you go without Emilia but I cannot give you what my faith will not permit.
Emilia Last night you gave me more than your faith would permit to either of us.
William ‘tis true but I am at fault, none of it is yours and I will not ever let you condemn yourself for my faults.
Emilia I know your faults before you know them yourself Will Shakespeare.
William What are you saying?
Emilia I also know your strengths, I have been in your audience many times before you were in mine.
William Then you know my plays?
Emilia Yes and through your plays I have come to know some of you although I was duty bound when I attended to pretend allegiance to my Lord Chamberlain Hunsden who took me; but now I know some more of you.
William And do you like me?
Emilia I would say I like you but need we discuss what we can say without speaking?
William I suppose not, but….
Emilia No, Will, there is nothing to discuss unless it is poetry. I write too.
William What have you written?
Emilia It is called Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum and it is prefaced with warnings about men disposed to evil who though being borne of women do like vipers deface the wombs wherein they were bred.
William Why so harsh an admonition.
Emilia You would only ask that because you are a man, do you understand that women are made to suffer needlessly because of the insensitivity and careless lust of men?
William But for my family, a woman has been the Queen of suffering! Elizabeth has murdered my uncle. You write of hailing the God who is king of the Jews but what of God who is king of the Catholics?
Emilia I am a Venetian Jew so am inured to what your family would consider fresh injury but the domination of women precedes even the persecution of the Jews and long predates this Queens persecution of Catholics.
William It is too solemn, let me change the issue? Will you write poetry for me?
Emilia No, you can write poetry for me and I will write music for you.
William (Reaching out for her in the bed and cuddling her down under the covers) Well let us work on our first compositions my beautiful Amelia. (they laugh)
(Light fades on the lovers.)
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