The Shakespearian Actor’s Final Performance

December 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm (Poetry) (, , , , , )

The old actor walked on to the stage
still famous but no longer the rage
his name was no longer on everyone’s lips
save old theatre critics in their alcoholic sips.
What number? What performance was this?
What actress was it he was supposed to kiss?
What were the rest of his lines?
What exactly were the curtain times?
The part of Romeo was so long ago
no longer a young Hamlet with Laertes his foe
no longer an Antony addressing the crowds of Rome
nor even a MacBeth killing Duncan at home
It now seemed with each passing year
he was condemned to play the part of Lear
Or was he Prospero working his magic for the final time?
What was it? What was the next line?
He looked at the body lying flat on the stage
at an old tired face no longer the rage
where was the applause?
where were the oohs and awes?
The audience were on their feet but where were the cheers?
Or for that matter even the sound of some heckler’s jeers?
Is there a doctor in the house? The cry went up.
Wasn’t it time he wondered to drink the cup?
But move his hands he could not
he seemed frozen to the spot
and that tired tired face that was his
seemed vacant of agony or bliss
he seemed to be drifting further and further away…
away from this night into Endless Day.

-A poem written by Christopher
Saturday evening December 17th 2011

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…
-William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, scene vii

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