David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s CYMBELINE: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scene 1

— 2.1 —

Cloten and two lords spoke together in front of King Cymbeline’s palace.

“Has any man ever had such bad luck!” Cloten complained. “I threw my ball so well that it kissed — touched — the target, but then it was hit away! I had bet a hundred pounds on the game, and I cursed, and then a bastardly upstart reprimanded me for swearing, as if I had borrowed my swearwords from him and could not spend them as I pleased.”

“He got nothing by criticizing you,” the first lord said. “You broke his head with your ball.”

The second lord thought, If the man with the broken head had weak and watery brains like Cloten, his brains would have all run out.

Cloten said, “When a gentleman is disposed to swear, it is not for any bystanders to curtail his oaths, is it?”

“No, my lord,” the second lord said.

He thought, Nor to crop the ears of the gentleman.

A curtail dog is a dog with a docked or cropped — that is, cut short — tail. The second lord was thinking of cropping the ears of an ass. Cloten was an ass, but his mother was Queen, and so no one could justly criticize him and thereby improve him — no one could crop Cloten’s ears.

“The dog! That son of a whore!” Cloten said. “I gave him what he deserved. I wish that he had been one of my rank!”

Cloten would have liked to fight the man in a duel instead of merely hitting him with a ball. But Cloten, a snob, believed that he could not fight the man in a duel because the man’s social status was lower than his own. Of course, because Cloten’s mother was the Queen, it would be very dangerous for a man of a lower social rank to duel Cloten. Anyone who killed Cloten would almost certainly be condemned to die.

The second lord thought, Cloten said, “I wish that he had been one of my rank!” If he had been rank like Cloten, he would have stunk like a fool.

Cloten said, “I am not vexed more at anything on the Earth — a pox on it! I had rather not be as noble as I am; they dare not fight with me because of the Queen my mother. Every Jack-slave has his bellyful of fighting, and I must go up and down like a cock — a rooster — that nobody can match.”

The second lord said quietly to himself about Cloten, “You are cock and capon, too; and you crow, cock, with your comb on.”

The second lord was calling Cloten a capon — a castrated rooster that had been fattened for eating — and a fool. Fools wore coxcombs — jesters’ hats — on their heads.

“What did you say?” Cloten asked.

“It is not fitting that your lordship should take on and fight every fellow that you give offence to,” the second lord said.

“I know that,” Cloten said, “but it is fitting that I should give offence to my inferiors. It is suitable for me to deliberately offend my inferiors.”

“Yes, it is fitting for your lordship only,” the second lord said.

Such an action as deliberately insulting others because they are “inferior” is fitting and suitable only for clods such as Cloten.

“Yes, that is what I am saying,” Cloten replied.

The first lord asked Cloten, “Did you hear about a stranger who came to the court last night?”

“A stranger came here! I did not know that! I was not informed about it!” Cloten said.

The second lord thought, Cloten is a strange fellow himself, and he does not know it.

“An Italian man has come here,” the first lord said, “and it is thought that he is one of Posthumus Leonatus’ friends.”

“Leonatus!” Cloten said, “He’s a banished rascal; and this Italian’s another rascal, whoever he is. Who told you about this stranger?”

“One of your lordship’s pages,” the first lord said.

“Is it fitting that I go to see him?” Cloten asked. “Is there any derogation in it? Will I be lowering myself?”

“You cannot derogate, my lord —” the second lord said.

He thought, — because you cannot go any lower.

Cloten said, “I cannot easily derogate, I think.”

The second lord thought, Everyone already knows that you are a fool; therefore, your actions, being foolish, do not derogate you. Your performing foolish actions does not lower you because people expect you to act foolishly.

Cloten said, “Come, I’ll go see this Italian. What I have lost today gambling at the game of bowls I’ll win tonight from him. Come, let’s go.”

“I’ll wait upon your lordship,” the second lord said.

Cloten and the first lord exited, and the second lord stayed behind and said to himself, “I can’t believe that such a crafty devil as his mother the Queen should yield the world this ass! His mother is a woman who overwhelms everyone with her brain, and this Cloten, her son, cannot subtract two from twenty, for his life, and come up with the answer eighteen. Alas, poor Princess, you divine Imogen, what you endure! You have a father who is ruled by your stepmother, who each hour forms plots. You also have a wooer — Cloten — who is more hateful than the foul exile of your dear husband and who is more hateful than that horrid act of divorce between you and your husband that he — Cloten — would make! May the Heavens hold firm the walls of your dear honor, and keep unshook that temple, your fair mind, so that you may endure and withstand such trials and may eventually enjoy your banished lord and this great land!”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


Edgar Lee Masters: Frank Drummer (Spoon River Anthology)

OUT of a cell into this darkened space—
The end at twenty-five!
My tongue could not speak what stirred within me,
And the village thought me a fool.
Yet at the start there was a clear vision,
A high and urgent purpose in my soul
Which drove me on trying to memorize
The Encyclopedia Britannica!


Lao-Tzu #38: The highest good is not to seek to do good, but to allow yourself to become it.



The highest good is not to seek to do good,

but to allow yourself to become it.

The ordinary person seeks to do good things,

and finds that they can not do them continually.


The Master does not force virtue on others,

thus she is able to accomplish her task.

The ordinary person who uses force,

will find that they accomplish nothing.


The kind person acts from the heart,

and accomplishes a multitude of things.

The righteous person acts out of pity,

yet leaves many things undone.

The moral person will act out of duty,

and when no one will respond

will roll up his sleeves and use force.


When the Tao is forgotten, there is righteousness.

When righteousness is forgotten, there is morality.

When morality is forgotten, there is the law.


Tao Te Ching

By Lao-Tzu

A translation for the public domain by j.h.mcdonald, 1996


Aesop: The Dog in the Manger

A Dog looking out for its afternoon nap jumped into the Manger of an Ox and lay there cosily upon the straw. But soon the Ox, returning from its afternoon work, came up to the Manger and wanted to eat some of the straw. The Dog in a rage, being awakened from its slumber, stood up and barked at the Ox, and whenever it came near attempted to bite it. At last the Ox had to give up the hope of getting at the straw, and went away muttering:

‘Ah, people often grudge others what they cannot enjoy themselves.’


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buzzing over mason jar
your mother’s secret recipe
embalmed in glass
a strawberry, macerated
soaked in sugar, honey
in my bloodstream.

Crimson checkered cloth
scratchy grass just a fabric away
a summer of sunburnt complaining
and wearing rose-coloured glasses by fall.

I’m flipping pages of someone else’s story
laying, leisure
the protagonist battles the beast
as I tame my windswept hair

A watermelon in July
the peak of fruit
like the trailhead of a hike,
I come back every summer
to stay in the warmth
just a little bit longer.

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In Memory: “most people don’t know… they’re trapped by, their little script.” — Art of Quotation

“Everybody, everybody everywhere, has his own movie going, his own scenario, and everybody is acting his movie out like mad, only most people don’t know that is what they’re trapped by, their little script.” Tom Wolfe, writer, 1931-2018

via In Memory: “most people don’t know… they’re trapped by, their little script.” — Art of Quotation

Donne Died Too Young to Know

Poesy plus Polemics

isle “The Island” by Oznat

an old man is an island
reduced to himself
to the hard wretched crags
and the desolate soil of aging
cut off from his yesterdays
oceans of time
span the distance
to lands of his life
to his people and places
and purpose of days

the long continent
built with his hands and his heart
hides behind the horizon
hull down lie his passions
the memories made
while engaging the world
joyous peaks barely visible
under the edge
of a shriveling sky

he is far from the knell
of the funeral bell
yet can’t help but hear it
a resonance inside his bones
tolling tolling
the clang of his name
the interior noise
of his personal pain
thrumming nerves
to the terrible tock
of a terminal clock

and it all comes to pass
without stirring
the powerful surface of time
from its heaving
no slightest disturbance

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davidbrucehaiku: SUMMER HEAT, LOSE WEIGHT






Summer heat, lose weight

So it used to be; not now

Air conditioning


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