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The Revised Versions

The Revised Versions Poem By Lawrence Raab

Even Samuel Johnson found that ending
unbearable, and for over a hundred years
Lear was allowed to live, along with Cordelia,
who marries Edgar, who tried so hard
to do the right thing. It’s not easy
being a king, having to worry every day
about the ambitions of your friends.
Who needs a bigger castle?
Let’s sleep on it, Macbeth might tell his wife,
wait and see what comes along.
So Antony keeps his temper, takes Cleopatra
aside to say: We need to talk this through.
And Hamlet? Send him back to school to learn
no one ever really pleases his father.
And while he’s reading he’ll remember
how pretty Ophelia was, how much
she admired his poems.
Why not make what you can of love?
It’s what we want for ourselves,
wary of starting a fight, anxious
to avoid another scene, having suffered
through too many funerals and heard
how eloquently the dead are praised
who threw their lives away.

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