54:  A Performance

A black cat's face, barely visible, but for the wide-open eyes.As if my lord’s dressings were not performances enough, we’ve had another.  Many came to see it.

Even that cunning rogue Nero crept in, concealed hisself in a dark corner, and saw all.

My lady Moll was here and I took my seat upon her lap, beside my lord.

After, when refreshments were served, I sayt to Nero, “Best you be off before any see you and take you for a fat rabbit and set a dog to catch you for their sport.”

Though in truth, the place did stink so high of strangers it were a very cute hound that could nose Nero out.

He snapt a wing of fowl that was tossed to me and leapt away, muttering of his happy apprehensions.

I heared my lord say, like unto a kitchen wench, “Ooh, look!  That cat has no tail.”

I fear my lord doth common grow.  If I catch Nero in my lord’s bedchamber his fur will fly, I promise you.

But I go too fast.  I must set down my thoughts more orderly.

Gib looking up, thoughtfully.We have seen a play.  At first I thought: What nonsense is this?

For it seemed that the players did nowt but jet it about, aping their betters and telling each other things that surely all with brains would know before the story started.

Then it come to me that this was easy work for a poet.  You need do no more than write the words, while others prance around and voice them.

And if, at the end of the performance, some call your tale fool you can say:  Friends, the fault is not mine.  I writ well, but those clowns could not carry it away.

Were I not sworn to tell no more tales for the lackwit cats here, I’d make a play.  Certes, there can be no great art to it when you see the puffed-up parasites that pen them.

But the little maggot in my head will not be still, and I fear that even as I write this his rival may be buzzing in Nero’s head.

I recall my maggot whispering of revenge when the fool cats who scorned my most excellent romance called for a tale of ghosts.  And how Nero pricked his envious ears when they did.

Does Nero now hope to make a play?  And will there be a ghost in it?  Happy apprehensions indeed.

Now here’s a thing.

My lord has had another dedication.  You never heared the like.  It comes from that common player who writ of the Queen of Love molesting an unhappy boy.

Dedication page of the Rape of Lucrece.His new piece tells of a wicked man who scruffed a woman who was not hot for him.

And he contrived an insult to me.  Yes.  He called that wicked man a “foul night-waking cat”.  After which I read no more.

Was he ever in this house?  Was his the filthie cloak that so offended me I raised my tail and set my mark against it?

Here’s what he writ to my lord:  “The love I dedicate to your lordship is without end; whereof this pamphlet, without beginning, is but a superfluous moiety.”

“A superfluous moiety.”  That’s to say, too much of not much.  How true.

“The warrant I have of your honourable disposition, not the worth of my untutored lines, makes it assured of acceptance.”  (Or so he hopes.)

“What I have done is yours; what I have to do is yours; being part in all I have, devoted yours.  Were my worth greater, my duty would show greater; meantime, as it is, it is bound to your lordship, to whom I wish long life, still lengthened with all happiness.”

What a claw-poll.

“Well,” sayt my lord, “at least he kept it short.  What say you, Bevis?” (Bevis is the name my lord and his lady sister gave me when we was kits together.)

I offered a performance of mine own.  I hoist one leg in the air, and licked mine arse.

My lord took my meaning, and laughed.

He’s gone to the city, but I’m content to bide here.  I have plans.


Toutparmoi - Note from the EditorWilliam Shakespeare’s second long narrative poem Lucrece (his follow-up to the previous year’s Venus & Adonis) with its dedication to Gib’s Earl was published sometime after 9 May 1594.

Both dedications to the young Earl have been pawed through by far more learned readers than Gib and I.  There may be genuine gratitude in this one.  By midsummer 1594 the plague had burnt itself out, the London theatres re-opened, and Shakespeare could resume his budding career.  The young Earl may have helped him through the lean period.  Otherwise Shakespeare (by now 30 years old, with three growing children to support) might have had to give up his theatrical ambitions and get a proper job.

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24 thoughts on “54:  A Performance

  1. Soul Gifts May 19, 2016 / 7:06 pm

    Gib’s taste for the arts obviously precludes the great Bard !! I wonder what he would say now given Shakespeare is held in such high esteem

    Liked by 1 person

  2. April Munday May 20, 2016 / 12:35 am

    So much to entertain and enlighten. I hope Gib does change his mind about writing again. He doesn’t seem to be too happy to be back with Moll. Does he still resent being left behind?

    Totally unrelated to Gib’s tales, there’s an amusing comedy series about Shakespeare on the BBC at the moment. If you stumble across ‘Upstart Crow’ have a look. It’s quite intelligent for a sitcom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi May 20, 2016 / 1:02 pm

      I daresay Gib enjoyed Moll’s visit to Place House, but he’s so proud of his position as Earl’s cat-and-poet he’s not going to spend too much ink on the Earl’s sister. A pity, but the common lot of many Elizabethan women, I’m afraid. Thanks for the heads-up on Upstart Crow; it sounds like fun. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. daveply May 20, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    Sounds like Shakespeare, in addition to being master of the sonnet, was also master of the suck-up. Or maybe he was just young and angsty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi May 20, 2016 / 5:32 pm

      Yes! I sometimes wonder how Elizabethan writers (often not a very refined bunch) managed to keep a straight face while they penned their dedications. But where money’s involved…

      Like

    • toutparmoi May 20, 2016 / 5:34 pm

      I fear that Gib may be getting grumpy as he ages. Who know what he has in mind?

      Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi May 20, 2016 / 5:36 pm

      It’s a pity Gib didn’t think to tell us about the play he saw. That might have given us a clue as to whether or not Gib’s Earl commissioned a play from Shakespeare.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Monica Graff May 21, 2016 / 2:11 am

    Oh my, such shameless brown-nosing. I think Gib did just the right thing, lifting his leg and licking his arse like that. I wonder what he’s up to next!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. larrypaulbrown May 23, 2016 / 5:07 am

    “moiety”…….Now I know, never again will I have need to page through my WEBSTER to look up “moiety”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Claudio LeChat May 24, 2016 / 11:43 am

    “I hoist one leg in the air, and licked mine arse”. I am pleased to see that Gib responded “appropriately”. We cats do body language extremely well.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Claremary P. Sweeney May 24, 2016 / 1:07 pm

        Roxie was quite taken with Gib’s response. She sat for five minutes doing her own version of that scene. Budding thespians, both!

        Liked by 1 person

        • toutparmoi May 24, 2016 / 2:35 pm

          I well recall the histrionic talent Roxie displayed on a visit to the veterinary clinic.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Claremary P. Sweeney May 24, 2016 / 3:31 pm

            Yes, but licking the nether regions is a particular art in her opinion. She much admires Gib and will do her best to make him proud when emulating him in the future. Charley and I are already starting to dread the annual check-up and it’s a few months away!

            Liked by 1 person

  7. mitchteemley August 3, 2016 / 10:44 am

    Gib has hit it: Why else should I write but that “the little maggot in my head will not be still”?

    Liked by 1 person

    • toutparmoi August 3, 2016 / 5:39 pm

      So true! That little maggot can rest for a while, but then it gets lively again.

      Like

  8. dornahainds August 5, 2016 / 12:34 pm

    ‘I offered a performance of mine own. I hoist one leg in the air, and licked mine arse.’

    Now that is a fine, fine performance, indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

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