gershon hepner

Rookie - 10 Points (5 3 38 / leipzig)

Polonius - Poem by gershon hepner


Pity poor Polonius,
he never was felonious
unlike the king he served.
Though rightfully unnerved
by Hamlet, who unable
to act, because unstable
mentally, got on
his nerves, a jealous son
who hated that his mom
remarried, to become
again the queen that she
had royal rights to be.
We shouldn’t criticize
the old man, and despise
him for attempting to
make sense of Claudius’ coup.

He was too old to figure
that Hamlet’s sexual vigor
was not the reason for
his madness, and would bore
the Prince, but who can blame
him for this? It’s a shame.
Old men are all the same,
and say cherchez la dame,
especially if daughters
are living in their quarters,
all anxious to make out
with any yob or lout
who fancies them in bed,
provided they give head––
Ophelia I think must
have done, because I trust
that’s how she learned to please
a man in nunneries.

Old men cannot define
true madness, since they all
go mad when they they recall
the cause of heartache in
young men. It’s always sin,
they claim, because they can’t.
The queen, now Hamlet’s aunt,
knew quite well he was wrong,
but making short what’s long,
I want to say that I
have also no clue why
the world’s in such a mess––
don’t even try to guess
like that poor fool, Polonius!
Unlike him, I’m felonious––
at least, that is the myth.
That’s why I take the Fifth,
and let those in their thirties
take over, like Laertes.

After watching a video about the Fifth Amendment by Professor James Duane fromVirginia, I read Ben Brantley’s review of production of Hamlet at the Delacorte Theater, focusing not on Michael Stuhlbarg’s Hamlet by Sam Waterston’s Polonius ((“Whips and Scornes of Time, Stinging All They Touch, ” NYT, June 18,2008) :
There is one breathtakingly poignant moment in the flat-footed “Hamlet” that opened Tuesday night at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It’s the sad spectacle of seeing a human mind genuinely o’erthrown, of someone losing his hold on reality so completely that you gasp in pity and terror and think, “That could be me someday.” And no, I’m not referring to the title character, that guy who so famously flirts with madness. As played by Michael Stuhlbarg in this Public Theater production directed by Oskar Eustis, the Prince of Denmark is flamboyant, loud, hyperkinetic, unavoidably watchable and on occasion quite entertaining, but never for an instant moving. The character I’m talking about is Polonius. Yes, Polonius, that fatuous, meddlesome old fool everybody makes fun of. He’s still all that in Sam Waterston’s fine portrayal of him here. But there’s an early scene where, standing at a lectern (for no reasons other than symbolic, as far as I can tell) , Polonius is bloviating as usual when the words dry up and his eyes go glassy. The long silence that follows, among the other characters on the stage and within the audience, is deeply uncomfortable. What they’ve just experienced is a dire example of what is euphemistically called “a senior moment.” When Polonius recovers — spurting out, “What was I about to say? ” — you feel an embarrassed but tender compassion that lasts until his untimely death in Act III. His eagerness to counsel, to take charge, to be perceived as wise and eloquent now assumes the desperate aspect of a man who knows he’s long past his prime and could be pink-slipped at any moment. From then on, I found myself focusing disproportionately on Polonius and his children, Ophelia (the wonderful Lauren Ambrose) and Laertes (David Harbour) , who seemed both exasperated by and protective of their father. There’s a real family dynamic at work among these characters.You feel that the blustery Laertes would grow up (were he allowed to) to be much like his pompous dad, while the sensitive Ophelia has been far too sheltered to deal with what the world has in store for her. And what must Mrs. Polonius have been like? Oh, well. The play, after all, is called “Hamlet” for a reason, so let us move on to other things. (Do I have to?) As staged by Mr. Eustis, the Public’s artistic director, this is a straightforward and easy-to-follow modern-dress interpretation, free (until the obnoxiously politicized final scene) of most of the obtrusive postmodern accessories that have tended to clutter Shakespeare in the Park productions in recent years.


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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Poem Edited: Wednesday, June 18, 2008

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