Your Shakespeare

By Marvin Bell b. 1937 Marvin Bell
If I am sentenced not to talk to you,
and you are sentenced not to talk to me,
then we wear the clothes of the desert   
serving that sentence, we are the leaves   
trampled underfoot, not even fit to be   
ground in for food, then we are the snow.

If you are not what I take you to be,
and I am not what you take me to be,
then we are the glass the bridegroom smashes,   
the lost tribes underfoot, no one sees,
no one can speak to us, in such seas we
drift in we cannot be saved, we are the rain.

If I am unable to help myself,
and you are unable to help yourself,
then anything will happen but nothing follows,   
we eat constantly but nothing satisfies.
We live, finally, on the simplest notions:
bits of glass in the head’s reticent weather.

Marvin Bell, “Your Shakespeare” from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Marvin Bell. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271,

Source: Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2000)

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Poet Marvin Bell b. 1937

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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 Marvin  Bell


American poet and critic Marvin Bell "is a poet of the family. He writes of his father, his wives, his sons, and himself in a dynamic interaction of love and loss, accomplishment, and fear of alienation. These are subjects that demand maturity and constant evaluation. A complete reading of Bell's canon shows his ability to understand the durability of the human heart. Equally impressive is his accompanying technical . . .

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POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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