Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry
The beauty of me
Dost hold Time’s fickle glass his fickle hour
is that I’m very rich and my women are beautiful.
My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented,
are various other parts
Who hast by waning grown
of my body
and therein show’st
You know, it really doesn’t matter
Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow’st
as long as you’ve got a young, beautiful piece of ass. Women
If Nature (sovereign mistress over wrack)
manipulate men with just a twitch of their eye—
As thou goest onwards still—or perhaps another body part
will pluck thee back She keeps thee to this purpose
You have to treat ‘em like shit
that her skill May time disgrace, and wretched minutes kill.
I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers
Yet fear her
I’d say “Rosie, you’re fired”
O thou minion of her pleasure
Look at that face Would anybody vote for that?
She may detain
but not still keep her treasure!
You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes
Her audit (though delayed)
blood coming out of her
answered must be
It must be a pretty picture, you dropping to your knees.
And her quietus is to render thee.
Author’s note: This is a found poem consisting of lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 126, whose first line is “O thou my lovely boy who in thy power,” which made me think, not unironically, of Donald Trump. So I’ve gathered some of Trump’s “choicest” comments about women and interwoven them with lines of the sonnet (which run throughout the poem in the same sequence as the original). What’s interesting is that this sonnet is found late in the cycle of sonnets Shakespeare addressed to “a young man, beloved 0f the poet, of superior beauty and run,” according to Hallet Smith in The Riverside Shakespeare: Like the young man, Donald Trump was born into privilege; during this election cycle, we’ve also seen the extent to which Trump still, though advanced in age, views himself as a “lovely boy” and behaves as if the wisdom that comes with aging (not to mention the baldness!) has not yet arrived. In this light, Shakespeare’s admonition of the young man in this sonnet seems especially applicable to Trump. Shakespeare’s speaker notes in the sonnet that the young man’s power and privilege only seems to slow down his aging and mortality, but that Nature, aptly personified as a female mistress, will eventually collect her due. I like that Nature is feminine here, given Trump’s well-documented misogyny and evident vanity. This is part of a longer book project I’ve been working on, Shaken: A Recycle, in which I write poems based on the first lines of the sonnets. And this is one of the rare instances in the project where I’ve found it fitting to use all of the sonnet in a poem that splices Shakespeare’s language with Trump’s to highlight the difference between verbal wit and sexist bloviation.
Copyright 2016 Ellen McGrath Smith