Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Dark House

The Dark House

"Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, 
deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do;..."

As you like it
so it will be.
So we said in cadence each to each,
dark and deep our eyes' forsaken night,
smoky our sighed, incited, worn insights,
and yet nothing was; indeed
nothing could be,
for we were whips alone, and well
deserving of the darkest home.

Now the sixth age flips
its skeletal slippery pantomime,
the mirror's jest, the frankly fumbled lines;
never jealous enough
in honor or enough bold,
sans heart, sans mind, 
sans everything but role.
(Do you not know 
I was a woman?)

So I speak to myself in this room of the voided cheek,
as false as the vows made in wine I used to seek.

 “Men have died from time to time, 
and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” 

 ~April 2016

Posted for    real toads

Both quotes from As You Like It, by William Shakespeare, as well as several other lines extrapolated here, including the ones concerning the sixth age, the woman remark, and of course, the last lines.

Image: So Long As You Like It,  ©  Liz Huston via internet. No copyright infringement intended


  1. Ah, that is such a great quote! I have only read As You Like It once, many moons ago. Seems I should revisit it.

    The poem is just a brilliant tangle of lines and images, rhymes and, above all, the wisdom to know that age may make us 'sans' but the passion for living never dies.

  2. This is so rewarding to read... how you have mirrored the words of the bard in the reflection (or what's reflected)... the sans (whatever we have lost, the sunken cheek... ) I think I need some wine cause I love vows even if they are false.

  3. Ha. I was in As You Like It in High School, so have a residual memory of the line--I think the first is Rosalind, right? And the end, the fool? Jacques? The Sans? not sure--but very powerful lines--I think Orlando in there somewhere, but I especially love the way you have turned Rosalind's disguise as Ganymede in the end--did you not know I was a woman--humanity does indeed trump all--We are what we are ==

    Really, this is terrific==I do love the play--but this carrying out of the whips metaphor and the little pantomime of aging is so well done, for poetic and real aging-- and the cheek for the boldness at the end, as well, as that kind of sunkeness of cheek which Shakespeare describes so well. Thanks. Sorry to be incoherent--tired--I did a rather silly shakespeare poem, but may consider something more heartfelt--(inspired!) k.

    1. Thanks, k--I enjoyed your poem very much as well.

  4. I absolutely love this!
    "smoky our sighed, incited, worn insights,
    and yet nothing was; indeed
    nothing could be"

  5. I enjoyed this very much,in particular, but not alone "Now the sixth age flips
    its skeletal slippery pantomime"

  6. The long bone of this comedy is that it isn't anymore, nor serious enough to be tragic; that when the masks come off the enactment of love is grey and watery -- a gruel, I suppose, a loveless daily meal. Rosalind was such an entire in Shakespeare's play, yet here she is left to wonder what wit or duel there can be when there is not much beloved in the other any more. No equal, so there's only lesser rhythms. It's very much Shakespearean, torn from that playbook, but the verbal clowning is pantomine for a greatly aggrieved heart. But the clown in Shakespeare was the greatest nihilist, I suppose ... My favorite -- in the highly ambiguous Facebook Like way (I mean, these lines gouge deepest): "for we were whips alone, and well / deserving of the darkest home." Dim, dark house indeed, sharp and meticulous in the account.

    1. Thanks B--I agree--clowns are the most complete nihilists, when they aren't being surrealists(or maybe that's just a bit of a different make-up job.) and as the saying goes, they aren't funny after midnight. Glad you enjoyed.

  7. Every line a memorable one! This is so powerful and compact, yet you manage to bring into view so many thoughts and images that normally hide behind those smoky disguises. Great job in responding to this prompt.
    Steve K

  8. 'the mirror's jest' so aptly fits the heartland of this lovely tribute to Shakespeare.
    'sans heart, sans mind,
    sans everything but role.'
    These words are like a beating warning that ultimately life has a purpose beyond the heart and mind's wanderings. So powerful.

  9. The narrator writes "sans mind" yet the lucidity here kills madness--if love is only a madness or drunkenness and the whips lovers give and receive are only stories, then better to be intoxicated with that madness. Still, with mind, there are many phases of a love and the stories we tell ourselves are not always true, so how can we ever be sure about the other? And that not being sure can keep a love going. It seems to be too late for these two though. Too many vows or promises perhaps?--and the role just cannot be supported anymore.

    1. Thanks Mark--too many vows indeed, and too many broken promises--as I age, I pick over the bones of the past for their little fossilized lessons--wondering how I was able to believe the madmen--maybe because I was so mad myself. ;_)

  10. I have never read As You Like It but since this lovely poem was inspired by it and the quotes you have shared seem seems I have been missing out!

  11. We were whips alone.
    Indeed--yes. Beautiful--

  12. I just love the way this sounds. You have done justice to the rhythm and flow of the Bard's writing; it all just fits together seamlessly.

    I am so behind...I haven't even finished visits for my own prompt yet! Gah.

  13. How perfect is this? Really gorgeous work, Hedge.

  14. the 6th age brings to mind the great extinction event we are currently bringing about.

    we should read ol' Will, as the grass burns up to our huts, as it overtakes us and our mis-spoken vows. ~


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats