The Notorious Soliloquy

David F. Brand

'Twas but a dream sowed by antique texts --

Two delicious spices, one well fed man

United in an opulent carriage.

I decorated my dwelling with art

To honor those whose station I hope'd to

Achieve. Thus, I play'd 'til I could no more,

Focus'd, pausing only for herb and ale.

I cringe at old, ashamed memories

And the period of darkness before,

But remembrance reminds me of my quest.

How far I have come! My dream fulfilled.

Strangers surround me and praise my talents

And I enjoy rewards once so foreign.

As my fame grows, so too does my ledger.

A victim of Eve's curse, I struggl'd for

Sorry scraps that men of fortune ignore.

Yet, despite my desperate beginnings,

Sage prophets forecasted my future feats.

Their faith inspired me to persevere.

Now, though I have fulfill'd my potential,

I embrace my origin. I am well.

If thou were unsure, thou knowest now, Moor.


To thine own self be true, a wise man said.

Free from binds to step galliards in the stars.

Let nothing interfere with thine crusade.

Once devoted, thou shalt win thine rewards


My fortune keeps an upward course, from thief

To gossip’s feasts among noble masters.

I stay generous and share my pleasures

With my whole flock so that they may partake

In the true-hearted spirit of our town.

In a pickle from mead and Canary,

Thinking of impudent maidens who burn’d

me but now yearn and compose me sonnets.

Poesy craft hath rescued a rotten life

Mired in infamy and violence.

Gamesters press me close as toasts-and-butter

From the Thames clear through to blanched Dover.

I repair to my mansion, contented,

While the vulgar visit that I may recite

To public ear in firm security.

Yea, my cherish’d daughter sparkles with spoils

As I grant favors beside sapphire pool.

Maligned for supposed ignorance!

E’er unheeded for my begrimed face,

Anointed majesty, a lord, His Grace.


To thine own self be true, a wise man said.

Free from binds to step galliards in the stars

Let nothing interfere with thine crusade

Once devoted, thou shalt win thine rewards


I pass time with billiards, primero, trump,

Such fanciful pursuits I never dreamt.

I sit in the wings above the groundlings

Atop fine leathern cushions of em’rald.

Two carriages of liberal conceit

At my service, plus my swift messengers,

Cost a purse, which, yea, needn’t trouble me.

My devoted brood repose as gentry.

Each day a high festival honoring

Our ascent from terrible wretchedness.

My mother, richly suited in fin’ry,

Is now a proud and doting courtier

Who trods on those to whom we were but soil

Fit only for paying tribute to them.

Woeful Christmas. No pagentry indeed.

We spirit our blood with fine wine from France

Remembering past, savoring present

For once life was harsh, now it is pleasant.