Reflections After Seeing The Tempest - Poem by Daniel Brick
Royal Shakespeare Society, March 2017
Everything you have heard
is true: the story has a princess,
too innocent even for a fairy world.
It has a revenge fantasy, side by side
with the vision of a utopian commonwealth.
Like all fairy tales, it has a monster
at its center. But which character
plays the monster? How will you answer me?
Should we fear that place because
one man rules it? Should we fear
him because he is a necromancer,
or because he is a grievously wounded
man with revenge burning in his heart?
Should we fear this man who claims he can
revive the dead, or is that just a poet's fancy?
Or should we rejoice instead because
this place is so real as we watch in wonder?
It has weight and presence, and creatures
of infinite joy cavort under its changing light
and fill its ambient air with the sweetest music.
And intelligent stars that know our fates
shine over it with unforced kindness.
Shakespeare fell silent after this play.
At the end he speaks of despair being relieved
by prayer and he asks us to set him free to go.
We must make our own closure: There is an island
you can reach only by risking a storm at sea.
There must be a history of grief you carry
within, and a willingness to make forgiveness
your permanent state of mind and heart.
But the hardest task is to toss Prospero's
books into the sea, and watch them as they sink
past touch, past vision, past any hope
of retrieval. Thus must be done yet again
when one of us dons Prospero's robe,
and finds another set of books just waiting.
There is an island that could be paradise,
there is a pure woman waving from the shore,
and there is a monster at the center, wherever you turn.
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