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45| On Reading Shakespeare #45 and Orwell’s Wigan Pier in the Same Late Afternoon Light

Edward Bevan


The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Feed and drain the men in Orwell’s Wigan Pier
As much as what they sweat through dust-clogged pores
And the black earth they shovel. Where Shakespeare
Saw four elements for his lines on love,
I see now my great-grandfather’s men, down
The deep shaft picking at the coal, and he above
In the full air of his office: Superintendent of mines.
I always thought him a miner, till once grandpa
Let slip about the country club and chauffer, to me
As foreign as squat diggers with buttons down the back,
Or now even grandpa, retired lineman for the utility.
Thirty years before he shared that bit about his Dad —
No wonder love made Shakespeare straight grow sad.

Edward Bevan lives in Putnam County New York, where he attempts to grow deer- and woodchuck-resistant gardens, and consistently fails. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence's MFA program in Poetry and Fiction, he works for a major IT company experimenting with new forms of employee engagement and education.

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