Ophelia–A poem by Susan Daniels and KB


He sent me to a nunnery, either convent or whorehouse
Did not matter, as long as it was away, the great Elizabethan
F— off for a tormented soul’s manic pixie dream girl.
There was nowhere I could end up but drowned in flowers
And strewing herbs, the taste of rue in my mouth
While men argue over who loved me best, not one
Stopped pursuing ghosts to save me from tree climbing
And rambled hummings of virginity and death.

The problem with Shakespeare’s women is we love men
Who mistake sleep for death, daggers in our chest
For a final cold union, or washing our hands of blood
That will always stain. Or agree the sun
Is the moon in perfect obedience, or puppeteered
Near the solstice by Oberon and Titania. Either way
We are damned, doomed marionettes; none of us daring
To snap the string but me, in spun, scissored madness
Filling my lungs with water even as I breathed free.


Ophelia! Ophelia! It’s time you came back to us;
You can’t stay drowned forever weighed down
By martyrdom’s gown Shakespeare sewed you into.
Tossing you back and forth like the Prince’s
“To Be or Not To Be,” espousal. It wasn’t, “What’s to do
With our Ophelia? Poor child she is so frail.” It was more
“How can we use Ophelia,” to suit the changing needs
Of a plot run amok with conscience’s abdication
From the king down to the clown who’s the only one
Among them who cared because he had to dig the grave.
He knew they killed you off, for the thematic problem
You presented the whole plot with. With so many
To die in the final scene they just couldn’t let
Your feigned madness hang there like an ex machina
Gone out of control spinning off into a play your own.

Ophelia, it’s the twenty-first century. Women drive
Tractor trailer, eighteen wheelers, are doctors, lawyers
Even walk in space. All things being equal it’s better
Than it was in Denmark, but still has a ways to go.
There used to be a “sisterhood” though it got co-opted
Sometime back. Your resurrection could just be the nail
To drive through the entire great big glass ceiling
Secretly hidden in every man-cave across America.
You could become a patron saint of equality in the mind
As you hand out your “rue” so ruefully without regret.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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66 Responses to Ophelia–A poem by Susan Daniels and KB

  1. Absolutely, completely, utterly brilliant – I stand in awe!!! The like button is playing up so if I can’t press it when I post his comment take this as a complete, overwhelming, total LIKE!!!!! 🙂 🙂

    • Helena, thank you! My friend KB had written the last two wonderful stanzas, but felt something was missing. i told him they were great as is, but that he should think about adding Ophelia’s voice to the mix. He asked me to do that, and here is the result. This was loads of fun to write!

  2. mobius faith says:

    21st century Ophelia – WOW – what great writing. REally really enjoyed this one.

  3. annotating60 says:

    Nice working with you Susan.>KB

  4. oops – your erudition is showing – simply magnificent

  5. A lovely poem Susan and KB.

  6. Heartafire says:

    spectacular writing!!

  7. nelle says:

    I’m no fan of Shakespeare, which leads me to say far better I read you. 🙂

  8. Poor Ophelia, caught in webs she did not spin. Well done, Susan, for this 21st century reading of a female in a stressful situation.

  9. Fab, both of you. I’m going to read this again – and then again.

  10. Brilliant Susan and KB.

  11. claudia says:

    ha – very cool on teaming up with kb – and a wonderful cleverly and sharp written poem..some good thoughts and heck yes – we’ve come a long way with liberation and equality of women but still way to go

  12. Mary says:

    As I said on KB’s blog, I am so happy to be living in the 21st Century. Nice colloboration, you two!

  13. Tony Maude says:

    Brilliant write, both of you. Each part is complete on its own; together they are something truly remarkable.

  14. brian miller says:

    read this over at KBs and commented there…really well done…between your collab and bjorns…i just dont know how you do it…my fav bits are there toward the end…as you will see at KBs…the glass ceiling man cave and the rue…ha…well played…

  15. Miriam E. says:

    just brilliant, Susan…. brilliant.

  16. What a brilliant cooperation.. Personally I love that way it can be done, and do it regularly.. It comes out very well .. I think sometimes 1+1 is more than 2.

  17. Wondrous, stellar, a truly brilliant write. I am put in mind of my studies for my first degree in which I discovered much about Ophelia and the women who posed as her for the pre-Raph artists who painted her – utterly stunning, Susan and KB – shows the power of collaboration – fab for the anniversary of dVerse, too.

  18. poemblaze says:

    Excellent. Thought provoking and well done. Shakespeare was enlightened for his time, as jackspratt823 did a good job of pointing out. Yet he was of his time.

  19. annotating60 says:

    So it feels good yes. We’ll have to try it again sometime with something really hard.>KB

  20. shanyns says:

    Totally and utterly brilliant! Love it.

  21. Gay says:

    Brilliant – the concept taken to the future – resonates in the current climate. We have only disguised the prejudices as we take baby steps to the true freedom, the absence of need, and the cutting of our hormone’s bonds. It’s time we realized we don’t need anyone else – mate, children, –anyone to complete us. We are perfect just as we are!!

  22. Rowan Taw says:

    This is such an original collaboration – great stuff.

  23. Pingback: Dumped by Romeo « The Top Banana

  24. Reblogged this on The Top Banana and commented:
    Really clever, thoughtful. A wonderful piece of work.

  25. I’ve re-read it. It is exceptionally good. You manage to talk about a whole range of things, past and present, in a small space. Great Stuff. I’ve reblogged it.

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