From fairest creatures we desire increase

That being fat they may before they die

Have such avoirdupois that at decease

They’ll make a greater claim on memory”

Dew“lapped, lids heavy, pouched eyes,

Poly“chinned, their engine full of fuel

And bellied to obscure the land that lies

Unseen beneath their feet. And is it cruel

To wish that they should cease to ornament

The race, become autumnal, forsake the spring,

That they might share our envious discontent,

Who will not be at table so niggarding.

Ah love, I really do not wish to be

Resentful of thy thinness but would fatten thee.

”Ralph McInerny

Shakespearean Variation 9


Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye

That you cling tenaciously to life?

Or is determination not to die

Aimed at yourself instead of at your wife?

Do you fear that, mourning, she would weep

Because your dying left her here behind

With only fading memories to keep?

More likely you would soon be out of mind

For grief is but a meager hoard to spend

And in a month she’d have no more of it.

Her sorrow, thanks to time, will have an end

And she will soon forget the reason of it.

So linger on as by your bed she sits;

Impatience is the sin that she commits.

”Ralph McInerny

Shakespearean Variation 18


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day

As if indeed the time were temperate,

Although the month’s December and not May,

And wishes could transport you to that date?

Shall I invent a summer sun that shines

Less brightly since its very light is dimmed

By yours and in embarrassment declines,

Defeated though your beauty’s candle’s trimmed?

Alas, my love, your beauty soon must fade

And pay the grim taxation that it owes,

Until your life is gone and you a shade,

Quite gone to seed like everything that grows.

But in that seed a promise dear I see,

And I would love to snuggle up with thee.

”Ralph McInerny

Shakespearean Variation 44


If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,

And Descartes with his methodic way

Were right, who flesh and blood had brought

To mere res cogitans, I’d rather go than stay.

For how could mind in space be made to stand,

Or loving me get in warm touch with thee?

Methodic doubt despoils both sea and land,

Erases human hearts nor lets us bodily be.

The thought that you and I are chiefly thought,

And minds by thinking could make body gone,

Redefines the world that God has wrought,

Depriving lovers of their cause to moan.

Disembodied mind with reason slow,

Destroys the bodies mothers bore with woe.

”Ralph McInerny

Shakespearean Variation 65


Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea

Are metaphor enough to catch your power,

No more would I to buzzing bee make plea

To mimic an apt companion for the flower.

Some things are best expressed straight out.

To what could we compare our single days,

What improving image find for milk or stout,

What word to hide the way that love decays?

Mixed things only, things that lack

Simplicity, have essence that is hid.

Elemental things, nor front nor back,

But all at once are given and metaphor forbid.

Your simple single sameness has such might,

Your light is what makes other things be bright.

”Ralph McInerny

Shakespearean Variation 87


Farewell! Thou art too dear for my possessing.

Shock shook me when I read the estimate

Of payment for your ultimate releasing

From the mechanics’ clutches at a date determinate.

You were a good old car. I’m granting

That, of my loyalty more than deserving,

Despite the many things in which you’re wanting.

Item. Your unnerving habit of sudden swerving;

Your cloudy glass and dented fenders; no knowing

From your gauge amount of fuel, mistaking

Empty for half full. Your faults are growing.

Item. The black smoke you’re always making.

Exhausted car, your tires could not be flatter;

You’re graveyard bound, but so am I. What matter?

”Ralph McInerny