Present Mirth – poem by Doreen Hinchliffe


Present Mirth

‘What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure’
– Twelfth Night

This photo shows three girls on a July day –
Feste, Viola and Andrew Aguecheek.
Their final term. Their very last school play.
Ahead of them, the brave new worlds they seek.

Feste brims with joy in her jester’s coat,
her eyes alight with laughter. Her stance is bold,
as if she wants to seize life by the throat
and gather up the future’s promised gold.

Andrew looks downcast. She stands on her own,
sword in scabbard, blonde hair trailing like weeds
beneath her hat. Intelligence alone
won’t be enough, she fears. It’s love she needs.

A boyish Viola in red and green
proclaims the power of passion to entrance
and conquer. As yet untouched by ‘might-have-been’,
she vows to follow poetry and romance.

Now, I look at them with time the only
lens. Viola’s dream remains a sham.
Andrew’s a professor but still lonely.
Feste drowned herself in the River Cam.

Present Mirth by Doreen Hinchliffe was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2018) judged by Roger Elkin

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