Famous Poems Updated for the Quarantine

This was published on the Society of Classical Poets back in March 2020.

THIRTEEN FAMOUS POEMS
(Updated for the Quarantine)
by Rob Crisell

KILMER
I think no eye has ever seen,
A poem like this quarantine.

BROWNING
How do I glove thee? Let me count the ways.

POE
It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom not-so-clean,
That a virus there lived that you may know
By the name of COVID-19.

DICKINSON
Because I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me –
I told him that I had acquired
My herd immunity.

ANGELOU
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of life postponed,
but not the bill.

SHAKESPEARE
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
My 401k is barely there.

LONGFELLOW
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
Or maybe it’s better to tell you the caper
Of how I discovered some toilet paper
At a Safeway only three miles from here.

MASEFIELD
I must go down to the mall again, to the lonely mall where I’ll buy
Some sort of decent take-out food. This time, I’ll make it Thai.

POPE
To err is Wuhan; to forgive, divine.

ELIOT
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out— 
DON’T TOUCH YOUR EYE!

MARLOWE
Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That yield the valleys, groves, and hills,
So long as you can pay my bills.

COLERIDGE
Water, water, everywhere,
But all the time we think:
Who wants water anyway
With so much wine to drink?

BURNS
Oh, my love is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June.
But my love says that she’ll murder me
If this ain’t done real soon.

Rob performs “Hath Not a Jew Eyes?” — The Merchant of Venice

To keep Shakespeare and the arts alive while theaters are closed, Wendi Johnson–a theater teacher and artistic director of Full Circle Players in Riverside–ran a series of short films called the Quarantine Monologues, in which local actors (like me!) perform short speeches from Shakespeare in a manner and space of our choosing. She asked me to go first as SHYLOCK from MERCHANT OF VENICE. My son Soren is behind the camera…


“Bard to the Bone” — Original Song by Shakespeare Gangsters

My son Soren returns to Rome tomorrow for two more months. What do you do with a talented musician on his last day if you’re a Shakespeare-addicted, wanna-be poet? You make him record your new “Shakespeare Gangster” rap song to a sick beat of the son’s own invention. “BARD TO THE BONE” is the result. You’ve been warned.