The invitation to compose a Shakespearean-style soliloquy that a contemporary politician might have felt moved to deliver was inspired by Aryeh Cohen-Wade’s imagining, in the New Yorker, how Donald Trump might perform the bard’s soliloquies: ‘Listen – to be, not to be, this is a tough question, OK? Very tough…’
The Donald kept an uncharacteristically low profile this week, with most choosing British politicians. Theresa May and Boris Johnson in particular had plenty to get off their chests. You drew on Hamlet ‘O that this too too shrouding garb would drop…’; Macbeth ‘Is this a compromise I see before me…?’; and Richard III ‘Now is the exit of our discontent…’ to impressive effect; well done, one and all.
Honourable mentions go to Naomi Smith and Martin Parker. The winners take £25. Bill Greenwell snaffles the extra fiver.
Bill Greenwell/Jeremy Hunt
Jeremio: Though I be pale, and far beyond the pale,
As artless in my art as rural clown,
Yet shall I hitch my waggon to that she
As hums at hems, and lights on leather hose
With half-conceal’d excitement. What bold sir
Doth not this sycophancy entertain,
That there be sport in buttering the lip
Of such an one? Ay, deputies survive,
And thrive by thrifty means. Hand her the conch,
I’ll stand abreast with her, yet at an angle —
A loyal wretch, a cozener withal,
The trusty that she tenders with her life.
I am her man, unmanned but to her face,
Bold in my braggart blood. Bring envoys in!
Wast I afeard of physick, or the surgeon?
I’ll prosper in this murk, until I burgeon.
Alan Millard/Boris Johnson
Men must at times be masters of their fate.
I know too well whose leopard shoes these are.
’Tis true, I once admired them, trod their sods
Till, led into the mire, I went my way
While others turncoat turned and, in their trail
Ran with the hares whilst hunting with the
Her courage and resilience many praised
And in her vision of a Britain freed
From bonds believed, though bound in bonds she
But I to economic vassalage
Was not resigned and so, with pluck, resigned —
Plucked in an instant from her entourage!
Yet, dithering not, I, Boris, do return
And would, with due consent, her mantle wear,
And, building from her dross a citadel,
Unite this Party, House and Land as well.
Frank McDonald/Theresa May
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this Brexit thing from day to day
And all our yesterdays have summoned fools
To falter for an hour upon the stage
Without a resolution to this tale.
My way of life as proud Prime Minister
Has fallen into a sewer of disrepute
And I am paid mouth honour, pallid praise,
By those who would affect to call me friend.
Out! Out! The country cries and once I thought
Their rancour was with European chains
But now I sense the clamour is for me
To quit the stage and play my part no more.
So few have faith in projects I propose
That it might better be to abdicate
Before my onetime allies seal my fate.
D.A. Prince/Theresa May
Now might I do it, splat, now he’s still playing
the Fool of Fools. A letter-box! What witless toad
would set such thoughts in print — yet, stay.
Fool he may be but Folly lures the crowd
and who in true-blue shires and county fastnesses
would wish that light eclipsed? When loss of
dented not his pomp, his self-inflation
alike to a balloon, what powers have I,
mere Prime? Ah, but a woman holds the power
to eye the future like a hawk in flight.
To splat him now’d bestow a martyrdom
which he would ripely use. Yet to hold back
is read among illiterates in the Press
as impotence. Thus does the winner lose,
the Fool survive for more enormity.
Oh, may the gods of pratfalls work their worst.
David Silverman/Boris Johnson
Oh what a rogue, unpleasant knave am I,
To whom these apparitions do appear!
Thrice wyrd, like letterboxes, they portend
Some goodly fortune surely this way comes.
Once mere Spectator, plied my noble trade,
Then Thane of London, now of Uxbridge Thane —
Methinks they bode yet greater fame than this.
‘Hail, Boris, Thane of Downing Street’ their cry.
Blow, winds! And shake the darling Rudds and
The Raabs and Goves and Rees-Moggs all
They have their Brexits and their entrances
Yet greatness comes from sterner stuff than this!
I’ll play the jester, act the fool and then
With jolly japes and antic disposition
I’ll woo the common groundlings, by this show,
That think one honest, that but seemeth so.
Tim Raikes/Theresa May
To leave, or not to leave — that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in this House to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Brexiteers
Or to take arms against a sea of rebels
And by opposing end them. To sack them all —
Tonight in one fell swoop, and so to end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That I am heir to. ’Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To sack, to sleep
At last — perchance to dream; ay, there’s the rub,
For in that well earned sleep what dreams may
When we have shuffled off this deadly toil
Of Brexit, that hampers now our every
Best intention. In one bound shall we be free,
For I would rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Your next challenge is to provide a happy ending for a famous play, novel or poem that ends badly (please specify). Please email entries of up to 16 lines/150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 5 September.