The story is as old as time
And has been told by many
You have told it anew
And we hear it
As if we are hearing it
For the very first time.
Years older than you
Your wife conceived your child
Months before your marriage.
A poacher in others' gardens
An angler in another's pond
A truant and mischievous boy
You were a disappointment
And needed a fresh ground to graze
You left your village on the Avon
And came to a great market place
Where to earn one's living
One had to be a good businessman.
Your beginning was modest –
Mending others' wares
And vending them in new packings.
The market was expanding,
The demand was growing
And though you were a novice artificer
Your goods sold well.
The buyers had their choices,
The market had its norms
And you had to make your both ends meet.
By and by you grew bold
And sharpened your skill
Sculpting things not seen before
Not even by kings and queens.
Sometimes you adapted
Sometimes you defied
To break the bondages
Of choices and norms and needs
And lifted yourself and others
Above those mundane compulsions
A great entertainer and a successful man
You retired a man of substance
And returned to your Anne.
Your story is not out of the ordinary
And is as good as any that ends well.
But is it all?
Was this the sum total of your being?
What about your dreams
Your illusions and visions
And the things that set your mind ablaze?
Is the forest of Arden
Without a local name or a habitation?
Was Anne only a Hathaway
Neither a Juliet nor a Rosalind?
Didn't you meet her often
In lonely village lanes or behind hedges
Or in the backyards of her father's cottage?
If it was in darkness
Didn't you wish there was a moon?
Were you not afraid
To be caught by her kinsmen?
As mad as Orlando
Didn't you compose in your madness
A doggerel or two
And then hang or carve them upon a tree?
In the city of London
You saw courtly ladies of sophistication
Didn't you wish your rustic Anne
Were a flirt, a jade and your torment
Or a dark lady
To be courted by a sonnet every moment?
Didn't you wish her to be
Not merely a Fulvia nor an Octavia
The wifely virtue's very pattern
But the Cleopatra of Mark Antony
Whom age could not wither
Nor could custom stale whose infinite variety
And where other women cloy the appetite
She would make you more hungry
Where she would satisfy you most?
The most mysterious of men
You never let us know
If your Anne was all these
Or they were the fantasies of your mind -
A midsummer night's dream.