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The Saturday poem: Shakespeare

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By Carol Ann Duffy

Small Latin and less Greek, all English yours,
dear lad, local, word-blessed, language loved best;
the living human music on our tongues,
young, old, who we were or will be, history's shadow,
love's will, our heart's iambic beat, brother
through time; full-rhyme to us.
            Two rivers quote your name;
your journey from the vanished forest's edge
to endless fame – a thousand written souls,
pilgrims, redeemed in poetry – ends here, begins again.
And so, you knew this well, you do not die –
courtier, countryman, noter of flowers and bees,
war's laureate, magician, Janus-faced –
but make a great Cathedral, genius, of this place.

• This is a new poem, written to mark the close of this year's World Shakespeare Festival.


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