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Colleen Gallagher: Beatrice Slams Out

W. Ridgway after J.D. Watson. Much Ado About Nothing, act 4, sc. 1. Engraving, 1896

Colleen Gallagher, a 2009 Folger fellow, focused her illumination project on the character of Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing.  After having read the play, Colleen created her own interpretation of what she conjectured were Beatrice's true feelings concerning Benedick.  Fusing her own language choice with Shakespeare's text, Colleen created a piece of slam poetry which she then performed for the class.  Below is Colleen's poetry; lines in italics are from Much Ado About Nothing.




Beatrice Slams Out



I pray you, is Signor Mountanto returned from the wars or no?


… returned, and pleasant as he ever was.  


Ben-a-dick. Oh. I remember.

An excellent stomach,

beard that bristles with every booming bravado;

Wears his faith but as the fashion of his hat, which would be fine but for the fact

Trucker Hats are long dead, child and I do know this by now:

[fashion] ever changes with the next block.




Tell me we are not born to fold,

made to melt, confess, profess, proclaim, bow down, weep and bleed ourselves dry

only to drink and dribble rose flavored falsehood.


What is love but an illusion conjured up

in honey muddled grey matter some rainy afternoon?

Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust?

To make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl?


Love: Juvenile Relief,

Love: A break in this endless queue of days,

but I can find green squarely beneath my own feet,

I trod through blades on my own terms—

should some promise of a willow be crushed under my continence

so be it.

The fading sun that frames an evening should be my own to decipher,

free from the senseless fingerprints of another. 


I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.


And so I let my cerebral compass quell the thumping below,


but in that cavernous secret you look so tender and bare

and the rain pounding on the tin roof, it seeps through till my ears are drainpipes

and I’m scared I’m permeable.

I’m scared of brawling with that heart housed between those broad shoulders,

if you must know I have two residences:

one in my own flailing limbs and the other in your hands—

those phalanges that kneaded me to nothing.

I’m scared I love with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.


You left,

and I was the reject rabbit bones

that not even the mongrels would bother to suck marrow from:

bits of sternum scattered across cobblestones,

white, incandescent against jagged grey.


I am made for watching, mingling, dabbling, but never entering

the hot and hasty Scotch jig,

nor the mannerly modest marriage:

I was born to speak all mirth and no matter.

Armed with a ten-foot pole of witty repartee, I will drink this wine gladly

while watching the fiddler try his hand at the chamber maid

propped up on a stool in the corner,


I’ll watch a civilization be demolished and then brick by brick,

rebuilt, demolished again and turned into something,

wiping its brow,

grinning and sweating,

secretly trembling at the thought of starting again.


Stand I condemned for pride and scorn so much?



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