Sonnet: Motley

Come, brand me fool: I will take no offence.
A motley coat is all that I aspire
To wear – no suit fits my uncommon sense –
The wild wind’s liberty my sole desire.
I have my charter, blow on whom I please
And speak my mind, unblushing, where I will.
I mock the world, not to insult or tease:
My jests medicinal, each barb a pill
To treat infection. What the wise ones call
Their sensible pursuits of status, wealth
And comfort, I’ll make light of; though it gall,
My folly is a physic for their health.
For if their Real World is sanity,
I’ll gladly live a fool, be mad – and free.


Lugubrious he may be, but Jaques is one of my favourite characters in probably my favourite Shakespeare play, As You Like It. This start-the-week sonnet is inspired by his famous speech in Act II, which follows his first encounter with the equally splendid jester, Touchstone. To my mind, we poets are the sane ones: it’s the rest of the world that’s crazy. And if anyone knows where one can get hold of a motley coat these days, do let me know! N.


8 thoughts on “Sonnet: Motley

  1. There is no better way to start my week than with one of your sonnets Nick.
    Particularly when, like this one, it was clearly written with a smile on your face. 🙂

    I used to have a duffle coat – wore it for the best part of 20 years. I don’t know what happened to it, but I still miss it!!


    • Smiling at the world’s folly as always, my friend. If I didn’t laugh, I’d cry! Thank you for your comment – my week’s off to a good start too now! If I can’t lay hands on a motley coat (and my hopes aren’t high!) a duffle could be an excellent substitute. A local charity shop had the jacket from a Blues & Royals cavalry uniform in a few weeks ago, and I was sorely tempted…but perhaps fortunately I was overruled by Higher Authority, as I usually am in matters sartorial. Have a good week. N.

    • Thank you Charles – it’s a statement of intent as much as anything. I’ve decided that worrying about the madness around me is futile; as Joshua, the deranged nuclear-holocaust-simulation computer in the (fantastic) movie War Games concludes, ‘the only way to win is not to play’. You have a good week, my friend. N.

  2. If you ever to go sane on us, Nick, don’t tell us. It’s much better being who you are with a smile and an occasional swashbuckle than some talking head who is so concerned and wise that he is all nonsense. Your sonnet is, as always and forever, wonderful.

    • I can assure you, without reservation or fear of contradiction, that the likelihood of my becoming sane is nil – buckling my swash and laughing at the world is all I know how to do! So pleased you liked the piece, my friend.

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