Meeting Shakespeare

I wrote this poem after visiting the Oak Effect exhibit by Mathew Darbyshire in the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead. The exhibit ‘presents a 2 bedroom show home made to EU recommended standards with ubiquitous oak effect finish.’ Various old artifacts are displayed within the rooms. Hence the juxtaposition of the new and old; and artifacts taken out of their usual context. I didn’t notice the carving of Shakespeare the first time I visited! Its by Gerrard Robinson.

Visiting Shipley Art Gallery

I walk into the art gallery and see
William Shakespeare
carved in wood.
Oak leaves form a sort of halo
around his eight inch figure.
Evidence of his seven ages
is all around:
1. Infant – a wooden African cradle
2. School pupil – a 1930s desk
3. Lover – a 1920s gramophone complete with shellac 78
4. Soldier – a spear from New Guinea
5. Maturity – a Burmese Buddha
6. Old age – an abacus
7. Death – a faceless long-case clock

Falstaff is nearby to ensure we don’t dwell
too much on ‘mere oblivion.’

On the wall behind Shakespeare
there is a chorus of birds, painted in oils on copper(c) Shipley Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
by Jan van Kessel around 1650.
Polychromatic parrots, parakeets and hoopoes sing
from a little song-sheet.
Is this a coda, an afterthought afterlife or
is this how it always is?

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5 comments on “Meeting Shakespeare

  1. jamoroki says:

    I found some old photos of me and thought how about writing the 7 ages of James. Then thought again – that’s too self-indulgent. I like your take.

    Like

  2. erikleo says:

    Hi James
    Thanks for taking a look at my blogs. It’s not self indulgent really – it’s the 7 ages of everyman after all!

    Like

  3. Gary says:

    Very good, been to this excellent installation and I haven’t noticed the Shakespeare bust so well spotted and congrats in getting a good poem out of it as the installation is almost too overwhelming to get an angle on it for a poem

    Like

  4. erikleo says:

    Hi Gary
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, it took me a while to realise the carving was of the bard himself!

    Like

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