NapaShakes Dramaturg Dr. Philippa Kelly offers this poem to illuminate The Winter’s Tale, starring Judi Dench and Kenneth Branagh and screening at the Cameo Cinema on January 17, 2016:
The Winter’s Tale
Polixenes – Leontes’ friend,
With dear intent a path didst wend
To far Sicilia, there to rest,
With pleasure at his friend’s behest.
For reasons far beyond his ken
(The inmost part of many men?)
Leontes harbors jealous rage
Which, unannounced, bursts forth on-stage
He swears his friend Polixenes
Has made his pregnant wife his squeeze!
How ghastly! Can his child be sired
By he, who once was so admired?
His servants all are set a-quiver.
His son collapses, dies of sadness,
His wife, too, prey to Leontes’ madness.
And so Leontes has to face
His loss of love, and life, and grace.
He’s now curated by Pauline
Who swears she’ll scrub his conscience clean.
Meanwhile, in forests of Boheme,
A shepherdess does regal seem,
Inspiring much appreciation
Of lineaments beyond her station.
The son of King Polixenes
Before this wench gets on his knees.
Implores her to enrich his life
By saying she’ll become his wife.
The narrative requires a suture:
They must produce a fairytale!
And to Sicilia thus they sail.
GUESS who has stepped from off the water?
Leontes’ lost, dead-seeming daughter!
And now Pauline will strutt her stuff –
Declaring 16 years enough
For any sinner to repent
And so, as if from heaven sent,
She brings Hermione from the grave:
Sweet tears her gentle face do lave!
Death is death, a wall’s a wall,
But somewhere deep inside us all,
A fairytale can yet prevail,
Illuminating dark travail.