Jerome Betts


From Birthplace To New Place

(The First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays was published four hundred years ago.)

The young Will of Stratford one year
Put a maiden in pod and poached deer
Later leaving the town
To seek London renown.
(Exact date of departure not clear.)

A horse-holder first? Then hired hand
With some rising theatrical band,
Till Greene’s barb, “upstart crow,”
Although cruel, served to show
The birth of a crowd-pulling brand.

He appealed both to butchers and bawds
As well as the galleries’ lords
By rhetorical flights
Mixed with ghosts, gory sights,
Pun-stuffed clowning and music and swords.

He acted, directed, wrote plays
Through his Richard and Romeo days,
Before Falstaff, the Dane,
The murderous thane,
And the Henry that saw the Globe blaze.

He left the theatrical game
For his house (brick, ten hearths, timber-frame)
And retired with his wife
Till the end of his life
Seven years before Folio fame.

Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, where he edits the quarterly Lighten Up Online. Pushcart-nominated twice, his verse has appeared in a wide variety of UK publications and in anthologies, such as Love Affairs At The Villa Nelle, Limerick Nation, The Potcake Chapbooks 1, 2, and 12, and Beth Houston’s three Extreme collections. He has been featured in Light. British, European, and North American web venues include Amsterdam Quarterly, Better Than Starbucks, The Asses of Parnassus, The Hypertexts, The New Verse News, Per Contra, and Snakeskin.