In honour and celebration of Shakespeare – short play Sweet Desdemona’s Revenge©

For Shakespeare Everyday

The formerly Sweet Desdemona plots her revenge against her unjust death while remonstrating with a sorry Othello.

ACT I

It is a deathly night but the aura of a woman’s glow lights the dark

Othello is deeply wrapped in thought while looking at an ethereal Desdemona.

OTHELLO

Even in death

Visions of sweet Desdemona

Horrors so deep

Torment me in sleep

Haunt me to weep

DESDEMONA

You exist still

I am no vision

You lie awake

I am not an illusion

OTHELLO

My sleep did make us part

How heavy the heart

Aches from sleep’s heavy act

Where you and I no longer live

DESDEMONA

It is not sleep that did the act

But the thoughts you did impart

And heavy act thy did execute

Smother breath in my heavy heart

OTHELLO

Live not this time before

But in this present law

Live in our heavenly glory

To see you here before me

Our love endures a story

Where death returns life

DESDEMONA

Alas it is not me you see

But that which only time

On earth can again alter

Do you forget your crime?

OTHELLO

My sweet Desdemona

DESDEMONA

Address me no more thus

OTHELLO

I do not forget my crime

I laid my trust in honesty

Too false even for betrayal

Alas

The calm that woke me from my tempest

Now feels less than tranquil

Leaves me less than content

I do not follow the path of repent

But forever flower faith in love

DESDEMONA

Mention not the word

That runs rivers into drought

Had I married Othello

But fate made me marry my father

Thy faith in me was of equal measure

And as fickle as intemperate weather

OTHELLO

Your death didst demand debt

And my own life’s end I did let

DESDEMONA

You died for office Othello

like my father Brabantio

You presided upon many words

of thy trusted dishonest Iago

OTHELLO

Mention this not for I feel

fear of losing virtuous Desdemona

was my achilles heel

Suspicions cast by my alien persona

Made me call upon proof

from a wretched handkerchief

DESDEMONA

This memory I do constantly loan

The napkin I used to wipe thy brow

Did fall upon the floor

And you made me let it alone

OTHELLO

If the matter could but alter

without a wise woman I did falter

DESDEMONA

Unspoken jealousy in high rations

Caused your murderous passions

Your kisses were rife

Before you took my life

Defend not thy deathly deed

Know thy has sown the seed

to make our virtues a vice

I, nor women will bear the name

of crimes against womanhood

Virtuous women will now aim

to alter designs of sisterhood

OTHELLO

Fall not into this obdurate way

Let tender words forgiveness pray

Let not manly ignorance fall

to serve revenge’s enthrall

DESDEMONA

I seek not the heat of revenge

But to be freed from a deed

made to make me meek and strange

Nothing else I shall ever concede

OTHELLO

Think our love did fight

against such striking odds

Now so blind in sight

I am left to call upon the gods

DESDEMONA

The gods did sit upon the side

while

Our love fought and lost against an age

Tossed aside to live as words on a page

Now it is left to wander till the day

when love can again make its way

OTHELLO

Until this day Desdemona

May I wanderlust

Seek fulfilment

And find none

Repent I must

My words do haunt me

That my disports corrupt and taint my business

Let housewives make a skillet of my helm

And all indign and base adversities

Make head against my estimations

DESDEMONA

Thy will no longer have the last word

I will only wait

for the true love of Othello

If love can fully grow

and not rest upon a tale

Let love be

Forever on the rise today

Tomorrow let love rise again

Soar above the love of yesterday

But love must accord thee balance

Melodies of discord invite silence

Otherwise let no woman fall

for any gentlemanly enthrall

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Life is here

not there

folks joke

while birds croak

and cars beep

incremental creep

traffic hums

do the sums bums

winds shuffle

feathers ruffle

rubbing against trees

above greyness hovers

but never over lovers

birds fly

promises ride high

nothing is missed

all is blessed

everything with a place

leaves an invisible trace

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem A Curse For A Nation

A Curse For A Nation

I heard an angel speak last night,
And he said ‘Write!
Write a Nation’s curse for me,
And send it over the Western Sea.’

I faltered, taking up the word:
‘Not so, my lord!
If curses must be, choose another
To send thy curse against my brother.

‘For I am bound by gratitude,
By love and blood,
To brothers of mine across the sea,
Who stretch out kindly hands to me.’

‘Therefore,’ the voice said, ‘shalt thou write
My curse to-night.
From the summits of love a curse is driven,
As lightning is from the tops of heaven.’

‘Not so,’ I answered. ‘Evermore
My heart is sore
For my own land’s sins: for little feet
Of children bleeding along the street:

‘For parked-up honors that gainsay
The right of way:
For almsgiving through a door that is
Not open enough for two friends to kiss:

‘For love of freedom which abates
Beyond the Straits:
For patriot virtue starved to vice on
Self-praise, self-interest, and suspicion:

‘For an oligarchic parliament,
And bribes well-meant.
What curse to another land assign,
When heavy-souled for the sins of mine?’

‘Therefore,’ the voice said, ‘shalt thou write
My curse to-night.
Because thou hast strength to see and hate
A foul thing done within thy gate.’

‘Not so,’ I answered once again.
‘To curse, choose men.
For I, a woman, have only known
How the heart melts and the tears run down.’

‘Therefore,’ the voice said, ‘shalt thou write
My curse to-night.
Some women weep and curse, I say
(And no one marvels), night and day.

‘And thou shalt take their part to-night,
Weep and write.
A curse from the depths of womanhood
Is very salt, and bitter, and good.’

So thus I wrote, and mourned indeed,
What all may read.
And thus, as was enjoined on me,
I send it over the Western Sea.

The Curse

Because ye have broken your own chain
With the strain
Of brave men climbing a Nation’s height,
Yet thence bear down with brand and thong
On souls of others, — for this wrong
This is the curse. Write.

Because yourselves are standing straight
In the state
Of Freedom’s foremost acolyte,
Yet keep calm footing all the time
On writhing bond-slaves, — for this crime
This is the curse. Write.

Because ye prosper in God’s name,
With a claim
To honor in the old world’s sight,
Yet do the fiend’s work perfectly
In strangling martyrs, — for this lie
This is the curse. Write.

Ye shall watch while kings conspire
Round the people’s smouldering fire,
And, warm for your part,
Shall never dare — O shame!
To utter the thought into flame
Which burns at your heart.
This is the curse. Write.

Ye shall watch while nations strive
With the bloodhounds, die or survive,
Drop faint from their jaws,
Or throttle them backward to death;
And only under your breath
Shall favor the cause.
This is the curse. Write.

Ye shall watch while strong men draw
The nets of feudal law
To strangle the weak;
And, counting the sin for a sin,
Your soul shall be sadder within
Than the word ye shall speak.
This is the curse. Write.

When good men are praying erect
That Christ may avenge His elect
And deliver the earth,
The prayer in your ears, said low,
Shall sound like the tramp of a foe
That’s driving you forth.
This is the curse. Write.

When wise men give you their praise,
They shall praise in the heat of the phrase,
As if carried too far.
When ye boast your own charters kept true,
Ye shall blush; for the thing which ye do
Derides what ye are.
This is the curse. Write.

When fools cast taunts at your gate,
Your scorn ye shall somewhat abate
As ye look o’er the wall;
For your conscience, tradition, and name
Explode with a deadlier blame
Than the worst of them all.
This is the curse. Write.

Go, wherever ill deeds shall be done,
Go, plant your flag in the sun
Beside the ill-doers!
And recoil from clenching the curse
Of God’s witnessing Universe
With a curse of yours.
This is the curse. Write.

by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, anti-slavery campaigner and poet