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The Riddle of Shakespeare; Those Dark Halls of Ambiguity by Ian C. Smith

The Riddle of Shakespeare

At their second world convention

those Shakespearean scholars

fight for seats in Washington’s Hilton

just for the privilege of hearing

Jose Luis Borges speak.

After several minutes of standing applause

they quieten, sit

as Borges’ lips begin to move

then lean towards the old blind master

hoping to hear the riddle revealed.

Although they strain, all they hear

is a susurrus, with Shakespeare

the only word audible, but distant.

The microphone is too high.

Nobody steps forward to adjust it.

Borges speaks for an hour.

Shakespeare, Shakespeare, Shakespeare.

No-one leaves that vast room – Shakespeare.

When Borges finally finishes

the scholars give him a stirring ovation

their hands hot, eyes glistening

on their feet again, for several minutes.

Those Dark Halls of Ambiguity

Haunting parish records of Shakespeare,

scholars scouring vellum’s inked decay

pursue rapture for clues, straight or queer,

haunting parish records of Shakespeare.

His sonnets sing of swoon, now long sere,

not bald facts, that bed, Anne Hathaway.

Haunting, parish records of Shakespeare,

scholars scouring, vellum’s inked decay.


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