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Mad March?


Well, perhaps just a little deranged, thinking of Mad March Hares.
But of course they're not at all.  Performing, so that they might look a bit mad, playing a role yes, but no, not mad.

However, pretending to be a little mad - which confers certain privileges if you're a human - can be useful if you're being entertaining if not outrageous, irreverent if not sacrilegious.  Then not-quite-acceptable, perhaps even disgraceful remarks may be seen as no more than slightly irresponsible as you provide laughs, a diversion, or even (or especially) an insight...

Now we're moving into an interesting area.  Poets often grant themselves this permission, as of course do comedians. 

Which brings the role of the Jester to mind - the classic stand-up, generating their own material on the spot in response to the conversation and company, risk-taking for sure, but in sailing so close to the wind, they travel fast, free and light - and impress the onlookers.

When, I wonder, and indeed why, did we abandon the Jester?
Or perhaps (certain politicians cannot be included, as the Jester has no power except that granted to him to entertain) we haven't?

Simplest to look back to those times when the Jester was, well, king. 


Will Somers Carries On...

I am a jester.  Good king Henry’s
the source of my sauce, the role for my royalties.
I Will bring light and warmth from my season –
to all and sundry something of Somers:
be you clouded or sodden, whatever the weather –
whether your son is shining or whether
the reigning gives you rheum and chill,
as a rule, Will will bring good folk good will.

You may rely upon my puns,
rocky rhymes and feeble reason,
rhythms that will trip you up –
my queries, quips and quiddities,
juggles, jests and jolly jokes –
they all live on, although
I lied and died in 1560. Still laughing

Will survives, which is jester’s
well – you yet have need of Will:
without a will, we have no future.
Kings and Queens have come and gone –
(make your own will, incidentally) –
I’ll continue – my trusty monkey
chattering on, chasing fleas…
the work of monarchs if you please,
for I suggest life’s just a jest.



Interestingly, exploiting ambiguities, using puns, rhymes, assonances and alliterations and even malapropisms (is that word itself wrong, being anachronistic?) - all the stuff of the Jester - are tools in the poetry box too.

Sadly, many of the examples of Somers' humour hardly raise a smile now.  But perhaps that doesn't matter, as he was obviously a great laugh then.  Although the two portraits of him both show a serious looking fellow - more like a poet actually, than a stand-up.

Still, he carries his monkey on his shoulder, like a Pullman daemon - his prop, identification and reminder. 

Personally, I'd like a hare, mad or not.
But I'm sure it wouldn't stay there - it would be off to run around in the fields, and have a scrap - slightly madly.



PS If you love hares, you might find this interesting

http://www.chrischapmanphotography.co.uk/hares/page8.htm

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