“Found Poems” and more


Found poems are poems whose words are found in the text. This gives you a chance to spend more time with the ideas in the play and provides a focus for a close look and friendly discussion. Check Pinterest for “Found Poetry” to see brilliant examples of visual found poems, blackout poems, cut-out poems, redacted poems, and more that use pages in old Shakespeare books, which are plentiful and cheap in used bookstores and on eBay. Take a forlorn, neglected book and give it an exciting, new, and beloved life.

Here is an example of one form of found poetry, taking lines from a play and adding a few others:

[Peter of Pomfret has one line in King John, Act 4.2. The Bastard brings him to King John, explaining that Peter had been prophesying—in song—that the King would give up his crown. The King has Peter imprisoned. King John does ceremoniously give up his crown in Act 5.1 to Pandulph to show his renewed allegiance with the Pope, and Pandulph hands it back to him, on the very day that Peter had predicted. Historically, King John had Peter of Pomfret hanged.]

Peter of Pomfret

I sing
Of a King
Who should deliver up his crown.
He asks me, “Idle dreamer,
          wherefore didst thou so?”
I answer, “Foreknowing
          that the truth will fall out so.”
The King does keep his crown,
          but mine is lost.

This is another example, combining Shakespeare's lines from several plays (Macbeth, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, Twelfth Night) with no added words.

[Scroop in Richard II refers to the double-fatal yew tree because yew is poisonous and it is also the wood used to make the famous longbows of Richard's army. Yews are found on the west sides of old churchyards in Britain because the new Catholics built churches on the sacred grounds where the ancient Druids planted yew trees above the graves of the dead, thus subsuming the pagan traditions and perpetuating the traditional association of the yew with death and immortality.]

Double-fatal yew

Under yond yew-trees
Lay thee all along,
Holding thine ear
Close to the hollow ground.
          Come away, come away, Death

My shroud of white
All stuck with yew,
Slips of yew,
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse.
         Fly away, fly away, breath

Bind me here
Unto the body of a dismal yew
And leave me to this miserable death.
         O prepare it

My part of Death
         No one so true
         Did share it

Create found poems using the first lines of the plays, the last lines, the first lines of characters, their dying statements, professions of love or anguish or grief. In a particular play, focus on the lines that portray a certain theme and create a poem around it. So much to do!