Tag Archives: justice

Fire Over Foreign Water

7 May

My wonderful husband took me to see my absolute favourite Shakespeare play (EVER) a few weeks ago which is… (drum roll please and thank you):

The Tempest

SPOILER ALERT (Follow my blog to read the next work of poetry if you don’t want to know the ending!)

If you have not seen this play performed, watched the major motion picture released last year, or were forced to read the play by an inspiring high school teacher, I am sorry. This is a great comedy and one the last plays ever written (possible THE last, one may never know) by Shakespeare. Not only is there comedy, there is romance, magic, loss, the struggle for power, even murderous plots! The best part, though, and by far why I dearly love this play, is in the ending which defies the normal revenge and need for justice: forgiveness (sigh).

As one of those aforementioned inspiring teachers myself, I have taught the play four times and each time I build up to the confrontation scene where Prospero, our protagonist, rounds up his evil brother, Antonio; the unwitting king, Alonso; the king’s gullible brother, Sebastian; and Prospero’s old friend and lifeline, Gonzalo. I ask my students what they think Prospero will do since we know he has not appeared so innocent and merciful in the preceding acts. Usually they all say surely he will banish them, leave them behind, perhaps kill them. Occasionally I get one or two who suggest the actual response. I love the unexpected kindness and mercy Prospero shows them though they do not deserve it. Such a great ending!

Fire Over Foreign Water

Here is the poem, an example of concrete poetry which forms a picture:

The text version:

An orchestrated shipwreck,

fire over foreign water,

flamed amazement;

brought sorrow and greed to a magical isle.

 

A crowned king, displaced by thrown swells

to the island inhabited, enchanted

and apart from kind kin, deaf to the past evils,

with wisdom from only an aged advisor

the rest of the entourage, alas, a loss.

 

Budding romance at first sight on another shore,

a young prince and a duchess, who saw only things

divine and brought together two families of royal blood.

First to a father’s test who watches with many eyes

over the isle: the water, the shores.

 

And frozen moments reveal the masked deceivers

parading round, of their fears, and steadfast hunger.

Sword drawn, a plea of roaring lions bellowing out,

fools the few. They wonder while the islander hides

from the storm and worships ambitious fools

inebriated and swaddled in charmed robes.

 

The king, desperate now affright with a raven’s warning;

the advisor jaded; the lovers enthralled by Ceres, Iris and Juno.

Plot foiled for the creature ever lurking is shamed

while all are taken to Prospero by the Lord’s lion and servant spirit.

 

Our magician ruler who – twelve years asunder –

instead of righteous revenge pardons them,

lavishing forgiveness: true justice for every last one.

 

Let us all set free and pardon.

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