Barbara Hamby is a poet truly besotted with words, their sound, their feel, their resonance. Her poetry is never dull and she is someone whose work seems to reach out, grab you by the collar, and pull you into the page. Yesterday I ran across her new volume, All-Night Lingo Tango, and though I tried desperately not to engage (the piles calling to me from at home and at work and ...), I thought, well, I'll just open it randomly and ... whoooosh, I'm in up over my proverbials.
Ganymede's Dream of Rosalind
Girlfriend, I am the boyfriend you never had—honeysuckle mouth,
indigent eyes, no rough Barbary beard when kissing me. Popinjay,
keep me in your little chest, nestle me in your cosy love hotel,
my mouthful of tangy violets, my pumpkin raviolo, my spoon
of crushed moonlight in June. On our breast let me sup,
quaff the nectar of your quim, trim repository of dear
succulence. Only touch my cheek with your hand, and let
us again meet as we did that first time in Act II, Scene IV
when we ran away to the Forest of Arden. Rough sphinx,
you know my heart, because it's yours, too, and quartz,
altogether transparent stone. I yearn for you as a crab
craves the wet sand, a wildebeest the vast savannah, a toad
every mudhole and mossy shelf. Forget Orlando, I'll marry myself.
Of course, my predilection is for the short poem, but I was in a positively dizzy swoon as I stood reading this by my desk, attempting to put it down, put it down, put it down - now!
Whew, as you like it, indeed - with a few tweeks for future archaisms, I believe ol' Will himself would have rode this one all the way down the Thames to its fertile delta and beyond.
In case you need a brief refresher, here it is:
As You Like It
Act 2, Scene 4
SCENE IV. The Forest of Arden.
Enter ROSALIND for Ganymede, CELIA for Aliena, and TOUCHSTONE
O Jupiter, how weary are my spirits!
I care not for my spirits, if my legs were not weary.
I could find in my heart to disgrace my man's
apparel and to cry like a woman; but I must comfort
the weaker vessel, as doublet and hose ought to show
itself courageous to petticoat: therefore courage,
I pray you, bear with me; I cannot go no further.
For my part, I had rather bear with you than bear
you; yet I should bear no cross if I did bear you,
for I think you have no money in your purse.
Well, this is the forest of Arden.
Ay, now am I in Arden; the more fool I; when I was
at home, I was in a better place: but travellers
must be content.
Ay, be so, good Touchstone.
Enter CORIN and SILVIUS
Look you, who comes here; a young man and an old in
That is the way to make her scorn you still.
O Corin, that thou knew'st how I do love her!
I partly guess; for I have loved ere now.
No, Corin, being old, thou canst not guess,
Though in thy youth thou wast as true a lover
As ever sigh'd upon a midnight pillow:
But if thy love were ever like to mine--
As sure I think did never man love so--
How many actions most ridiculous
Hast thou been drawn to by thy fantasy?
Into a thousand that I have forgotten.
O, thou didst then ne'er love so heartily!
If thou remember'st not the slightest folly
That ever love did make thee run into,
Thou hast not loved:
Or if thou hast not sat as I do now,
Wearying thy hearer in thy mistress' praise,
Thou hast not loved:
Or if thou hast not broke from company
Abruptly, as my passion now makes me,
Thou hast not loved.
O Phebe, Phebe, Phebe!
Alas, poor shepherd! searching of thy wound,
I have by hard adventure found mine own.
And I mine. I remember, when I was in love I broke
my sword upon a stone and bid him take that for
coming a-night to Jane Smile; and I remember the
kissing of her batlet and the cow's dugs that her
pretty chopt hands had milked; and I remember the
wooing of a peascod instead of her, from whom I took
two cods and, giving her them again, said with
weeping tears 'Wear these for my sake.' We that are
true lovers run into strange capers; but as all is
mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly.
Thou speakest wiser than thou art ware of.
Nay, I shall ne'er be ware of mine own wit till I
break my shins against it.
Jove, Jove! this shepherd's passion
Is much upon my fashion.
And mine; but it grows something stale with me.
I pray you, one of you question yond man
If he for gold will give us any food:
I faint almost to death.
Holla, you clown!
Peace, fool: he's not thy kinsman.
Your betters, sir.
Else are they very wretched.
Peace, I say. Good even to you, friend.
And to you, gentle sir, and to you all.
I prithee, shepherd, if that love or gold
Can in this desert place buy entertainment,
Bring us where we may rest ourselves and feed:
Here's a young maid with travel much oppress'd
And faints for succor.
Fair sir, I pity her
And wish, for her sake more than for mine own,
My fortunes were more able to relieve her;
But I am shepherd to another man
And do not shear the fleeces that I graze:
My master is of churlish disposition
And little recks to find the way to heaven
By doing deeds of hospitality:
Besides, his cote, his flocks and bounds of feed
Are now on sale, and at our sheepcote now,
By reason of his absence, there is nothing
That you will feed on; but what is, come see.
And in my voice most welcome shall you be.
What is he that shall buy his flock and pasture?
That young swain that you saw here but erewhile,
That little cares for buying any thing.
I pray thee, if it stand with honesty,
Buy thou the cottage, pasture and the flock,
And thou shalt have to pay for it of us.
And we will mend thy wages. I like this place.
And willingly could waste my time in it.
Assuredly the thing is to be sold:
Go with me: if you like upon report
The soil, the profit and this kind of life,
I will your very faithful feeder be
And buy it with your gold right suddenly.
This is, of course, the preliminary of what is to come. The stage is set for the rest of the play.
And for the poem.
If you love words, don't miss Barbara Hamby. Her work is thrilling, a word not frequently attached poetry today.
PS Check out the daily Lilliput Review Twitter poem. It's posted.