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“To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia”
by William Shakespeare

In her excellent white bosom, these...
(here Polonius interrupts his reading and "spares" Gertrude the sexy stuff)
Doubt thou the stars are fire,
Doubt that the sun doth move,
Doubt truth to be a liar,
But never doubt I love.
Thine evermore, most dear lady,
whilst this machine is to him.

typing prompt

Current Writing Prompt

The plays of William Shakespeare continue to be relevant because his characters' motivations, problems and emotions are universal.

When I retired, I felt like Prospero at the end of The Tempest. In one job I had as an administrator, there were some days when I was in a scene from Julius Caesar. In college, I had a number of Hamlet moments. In high school, I identified with Juliet and Romeo depending on the relationship.

I read a poem - Ophelia's Technicolor G-String: An Urban Mythology  - about a reimagined modern-day Ophelia. In that poem, the sad, naive, and mistreated girlfriend of Hamlet is launched into modern times. She became quite different in our time and seems much happier. 

Oh Hamlet, if you could see me now
as I pump and swagger across that stage, cape dripping to the floor,
me in three-inch heels and a technicolor G-string—
you would not wish me in a convent.
They’ve made me a queen here, married me off
to a quarter bag and a pint of gin.

I started reading more about Ophelia and looking for other poems about her. My search turned up a few allusions to Polonius' daughter but no other model poem candidates. You can find more about Ophelia and those other Ophelia poems on our blog post about this prompt.

For this prompt, I chose to use Shakepeare's own words. It is the letter that Hamlet wrote to Ophelia that is intercepted by her father. Polonius reads it - well, some of it - to his wife Gertrude in Act II scene ii.

For our November call for submissions, we are looking for poems where a character(s) from Shakespeare is brought into our time or the voice of the poem identifies with some aspect from the character's life. Make it clear which character (and play?) you are alluding to, and if you use lines from the play indicate that with quotation marks or italics.

Need to brush up on your Shakespeare? Wikipedi has a list of characters from the plays to get you started.


Deadline for submissions to our next issue: November 30, 2021

Please refer to our submission guidelines and look at our archive of more than two decades of prompts and poems, and our blog for much more.