Dramatic Monologue is Dramatic Indeed

For English every year, a dramatic monologue or seminar is part of the curriculum, and this was mine! It’s lush with exclamations, borrowed quotes and inversed sentences; I hope you enjoy a look into Paulina’s mind (she’s a character from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale).

Paulina after the announcement of Mamillius’ death in Act 3, scene 2. A freeze-frame monologue that fits in between the aforementioned moment, and her announcement of the Queen’s death, which concludes the speech and links back to The Winter’s Tale.


What befalls us now? A fallen heir, my lady swooned; nothing left but a court confused and a wrathful king to rule them.

Leontes’ mind is riddled with disease; a jealousy so strong that it has eaten through reason. To sink so quick into the quagmire of twisted logic; incarnadine Hermione’s rosy lips with the colour of deceit, and so too the actions of Polixenes … had it not been an hour, merely threescore minutes since the three were merrily exchanging affable witticisms in the court? Dissension snuck too bold, for it reared up in Leontes’ mind as guise to friendship, as duty to lust, and ‘ere the king has thrown the queen into an iron trap.

“Speak you”, he charged her, but whilst she may speak her innocence, he doth accept them lies. Thus she speaks not at all, further putting proof into his troubled mind, further giving corroboration of her tongue-tied guilt. Certain of the cuckold’s horns exhibited from whence his hair doth stop, Leontes will not be prevailed upon to halt in his bitter polemics against the chastity of his queen. For in his mind, if women say so, that will say anything but were they false, why then naught Hermione says will cast aside his jealous fervour. Falsely determined betrayal enshrouds his thoughts with violent anger, and vile allegations has he made against the best. He will not be swayed; his reason sundered from his mind.

Claiming nothing to be something! Nothing is what swayed my lord from his preconceived conclusion – not the earnest protestations of Camillo, who wished Leontes be cur’d of his diseas’d opinion, nor those of my dearest husband, he who would hold every dram of women’s flesh as false if ‘tis true Hermione be. Not the eloquent defence of the Lords at my behest! Even the babe, that wholesome evidence for the good queen’s fruitful and unswerving loyalty, did not convince. The print was little, but held truth within it; eye, nose, lip; the whole matter and copy of the father! Nature, which hast made it so like him that got it … well! Even nature was ignored for sightless tyranny. My lord, from ‘pon his throne, casts accusations of paddling palms and pinching fingers, and making practised smiles, though none are seen by us. He believes his perception true, yet if it be so, were it not also true to say that ours would all be clouded? And that be false – ‘tis clear as day!

Yet, knowing this, did I not send forth Antigonus to do Leontes’ crazed bidding? Did I not!?! For though I raged against the deed, I did nothing to derail it. I stood, accepting, by his side as he took the infant from Hermione’s arms and set her on his shoulder; I helped pack food and drink for the long journey to abandonment; and I kissed him goodbye on the day he left. In such a way have I betrayed my queen and my reason, and thus I am struck by wretched evils that rightfully befall me for my sin. For my complicity as bystander I am punished, and ye gods punish well, for am I not now standing by my daughters’ grief and joyless tears? Am I not standing by to see their futures perish? For dear Antigonus is dead. Their future shall be as the good queen’s daughter, and only when she is regained shall our fortunes change.

An ill wind blows through this kingdom’s fields, turning fresh wheat into rotted hay and murmurings into much-bent gossip. Mamillius is listless; cumbered with the tribulations of the imprisoned queen – no smiles light his face whilst his mother languishes in grace. Ne’er the less, he is innocent! He ought not have been so struck, so quick to fasten and fix the shame on’t upon his blameless self. I weep for that dear child’s fate, for too soon did the heavens claim him; too soon did Mamillius fall for sorrow of his mother’s conjured ills. That he should die and leave the throne without successor unseats us all! ‘Tis for sure an omen of disastrous strife, as the Oracle proclaimed: “Leontes is a jealous tyrant”, and the king shall live without an heir till that which is lost be not found. This kingdom needs no more calamity – Leontes, he in madness, he has wrought enough. He must needs a catalyst, for if his path is not revised, nary a thing we’ll do may stop him.  Hasten I, and make such one that will remould his course.

My lord Leontes – the news is mortal to the queen: look down, and see what death is doing!


Stark Lights for Remembered Shadows

This is the one I submitted to my teacher (although I’m not completely happy with it either). It comes in two versions – the original:

Let lights be stark
To forthright
Shadows lie, squandered in the dark

Should all ye hark
at break of dawn, when faded is the light
Let lights be stark

The innocent remark,
For we who travel free of fright
Shadows lie squandered, in the dark.

When moonlight rises, a warning bark
Will tell all travellers to ‘ware of the bedevilled wight;
Let lights be stark

Should you embark
Upon a quest, always remember, and recite:
Shadows lie squandered in the dark.

So light the spark
For those fools who walk this Earth at night
Let lights be stark:
Shadows lie squandered in the dark.

And then the second version, in which I changed a couple of words – literally – to the last stanza at my dad’s behest. This makes the last stanza feel more like a turning point, I think. The revised stanza read:

So light the spark
For those few braves who dare to walk this Earth at night
Let lights be stark:
Shadows lie squandered in the dark.

P.S. Wight is a real word, albeit in Olde English. You can look it up if you like 🙂

A Villanelle About Beef Stew

I was hungry, okay?? It was late at night, and I was trying to write a villanelle, and I was hungry and looking at rhyming words for you, and I came across beef stew, and then I had the sudden urge to figure out what the difference between soup and broth and stew was, and then I decided after looking at an image of beef stew on google, that I would incorporate it somehow into my villanelle.

In the end, I didn’t even use ‘you’…still, I like this villanelle much better than my first one.

Your anger is a bit like beef stew
Chunky hunks of anger that you chew on deliberately
Chopped-potato-feelings that you sardonically, constantly review

Carrot slices of resentment crop up sometimes, long overdue,
Adorned with spicy regretful filigree
Oh yes, I’d say your anger is a bit like beef stew;

Sharp with wrenched out scents that rang true
As you roughened your throat indignantly
with chopped-potato-feelings that you sardonically, constantly review.

A simmering broth of emotions that you keep close in lieu
Of releasing like the scented herbs, stirred viciously
Together, (y) our anger is a bit like beef stew

Full of garnishes to stew
over, replete with mistakenly
chopped-potato-feelings that you sardonically, constantly review.

Sometime I will learn to
revel in it more palpably:
Your anger is a bit like beef stew;
Chopped-potato-feelings that you sardonically, constantly review.

It’s A Villanelle (About Fred)

And I remember Fred
– In the dying of the night –
because he’s dead.

A girl walks past with small steps, beloved,
With starlight
Reflected in her eyes, and I remember Fred;

I remember how he had often fled –
no shining armour for this reclusive knight,
And I wonder if I see him in this way only because he’s dead.

The laugh lines lie around my eyes; my face looks like crumpled lead
because warped window-corner fragmented shatter-sight
is not conducive for self-reflection, and I remember Fred.

The rain stills to a light drizzle and up ahead
I see him standing in the greyish pre-dawn light.
Except he isn’t any more; because he’s dead.

Turning over in my bed
I see a shadow and scream in fright,
And I remember Fred;
because he’s dead.

For English, we had to write villanelles – a very rigid form of rhyming poetry. This was my first attempt – at the beginning I had written ‘him’, and then forgotten that the third and first lines had to rhyme, thus the name Fred. Also, it’s still kind of cheating because I’ve added to the repeating lines – they are meant to remain unchanged.

The most difficult part is to find a decent rhyming couplet. This one wasn’t. Also that because things have to rhyme, the poem doesn’t sound like a natural grouping of words; rather, “this has to rhyme and make a decent amount of sense, what can I do?” (Therefore, this attempt’s awful)

Possibly The Most Awkward Hour Of My Life

This is on the record. I hope that it doesn’t get any worse.

My first tutorial was today. From what I’d heard from fellow Uni students, tutorials rocked – they were informal discussions with just a few people you got to know quite well.

This one didn’t. For the five minutes during which the lecturer hadn’t arrived yet, there was an aggressive silence which would later characterise the tutorial. Every time I glanced up to try and say hello to the person beside me, they were texting or looking much too occupied to be bothered with me. So, coward that I am, I shut my mouth and said nothing.

There were about 12 of us in the room; I think about 5 hadn’t done the reading. Silence seemed to flourish and I felt really uncomfortable – for an entire hour, it was basically the lecturer, myself, a boy who also contributed, and another girl who would slip in with such gems of close reading that it made you feel like she was selecting what to share in order to keep the best for her notes and to put in her essay at the end of the course. I’m probably being cruel and it’s nothing of the sort, but that’s what it felt like to me.

Allowing questions to go unanswered is hard for me – especially as no one else was leaping in with a great idea. I felt obliged to offer something up – no doubt what the lecturer’s cultivated silences were supposed to do. However, my points were meagre – I am not the best at analysis at the best of times, as you really have to point something out to me before I ‘get it’. For example, when the lecturer asked for words that stood out, normally I never would’ve even tried to put an opinion out there, because when I read, all the words seem the same, and nothing stands out. I would’ve loved to hear other people’s thoughts, as that could help me pinpoint the type of words to look for when reading. As it was, I ended up talking a whole lot of shallow rubbish that even I didn’t think could be counted as close reading…and felt terrible as the other members stared at me from the corners of their eyes as they looked at their empty pages or laptop screens. Silently.

I hope this doesn’t repeat next week…I have even less to say on the next reading than I did this one!
Does anyone have any tips on how to encourage a proper conversation in tutorials, so that we all get the best of each other’s ideas?

Let’s call me Lily

The Story of the Nougat Cookies That Weren’t

Today I was going to post a review of His Last Vow to complete my reviews of Sherlock Season 3….except it turns out it didn’t magically write itself (are you surprised? I was so surprised! Authors always tell you to let the idea brew….well, mine must’ve been simmering for so long it evaporated). Instead, here is a stream-of-consciousness-style recollection of Thursday night and Friday morning. Enjoy!

The nougat cookies that weren’t.

You see, I had this recipe I picked up from a book by our dear friend Nigella Lawson, except I didn’t have nougat. And I wanted to try the recipe then and there, even without the nougat, because Dad was making borekas, and the oven was hot, and that’s always a good time to bake something (have you ever tried doing it when the oven is cold? I wouldn’t recommend it).
So I decided to substitute the nougat with chopped up almonds and dried apricots and halva…and then I looked at the recipe and thought – oh, this would taste so good if I replaced the white flour (which I’d already halved in amount so that I could use wholemeal flour and be more healthy) with almond meal! Except there wasn’t any almond meal, so then I reconsidered, and thought – hey – I love coconut! Thus, I had another rummage around and came up with coconut shreds and coconut flakes, and also rolled oats. So I added those instead of the almond meal which was instead of the white flour.
Then I added chocolate chips, because CHOCOLATE CHIPS. Also, I may have (definitely did) replaced the espresso powder with more cocoa, because there wasn’t any of that either. And,err, I didn’t like the amount of sugar, so I put in less and added some treacle that I found instead – it turns out we’ve had treacle and never used it for anything for a couple of years now, but as it’s in a tin can thing – you know, like the golden syrup ones (I thought it WAS golden syrup at first) – and as I found it, I felt pressured to include it in my recipe. So I did. Then I added the ingredients that were actually a part of the original recipe (an egg, baking soda, butter…) and mixed.
After considering the time (11pm) I realised I couldn’t be bothered making the dough-mix-thing (it certainly didn’t look like dough) into cookies. Rather, I improvised and scooped the mixture into a square tin, coming to the conclusion I could make a slice instead. Shoved it in the oven and waited for 15 minutes…then another 15 for it to cool down…ate a slice; addicted! I swear I finished half of it myself. In one day. Except when I took it to school the next morning I couldn’t very well brag about how amazing my nougat cookies came out.

Because they SO weren’t nougat cookies any more!

And that, in case you were curious, is what I do at 11pm at night when I’m craving something sweet and trying to follow a recipe…

Now, I have two questions, dear readers!

  1. What should I call this slice that I made?
  2. Any tips on how to write a villanelle poem? It’s homework for English, and I feel as though my attempts are being especially pathetic.


– Let’s call me Lily

Lament For Clementine

here is the original! Not much has changed, just the ending a bit.

Craven fools were we who thought
To bid fair Clementine farewell
And leave her ‘neath the rolling seas
Forever lost and wondering ‘tween the murky waves.

No sailor-man was she,
That should deserve a watery grave
Yet still, mayhap, a weeded necklace offers her
Adornment plenty for the while,
Till to the dark her body sinks,
And nevermore is seen by light
Of sun, whose rays shine not into the depths
Of the grottos in the sea,
Enclosed by weed and rock and reef
That protect the dark within.

For when the opaque water claims her,
No longer will she be known as Clementine,
But will have become some nameless corpse,
Drifting aimlessly,
A soon commonplace characteristic to those few creatures
Who dare to inhabit the shadowy dark.

‘Twas not a fate we wished upon her,
Yet mistress Sea’s desires must be adhered to,
And so away,
Away fled we from that cursed place
Departing with the swiftness of the cooling wind
Forsaking sweet Clementine forevermore
To linger not upon the Earth
But sway in sorrow
Surrounded by the swirling seaweed
Encumbered by the weight of wordless waves.

Farewell, oh fairest Clementine!