Books

The Woeful Promenade by Hillary Mak

Hillary Mak is a 2019 finalist for the Shakespeare Selfie student writing challenge in the Grade 10 to 12 category.

2019 finalist: Grade 10 to 12 category

Hillary Mak is a 16-year-old student from Toronto, Ont. (Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.)

Hillary Mak is a finalist of the 2019 Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge. This annual writing competition challenges students to write a soliloquy or monologue in the voice of a Shakespearean character based on a prominent news, pop culture or current affairs event from the last year (April 2018 to April 2019).

Read the work of the 2019 Shakespeare Selfie finalists.

Mak, who attends Havergal College in Toronto, wrote about the May 2018 shooting at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas from the perspective of Macbeth's The Porter.


Knock, knock, anon, a woeful promenade!
Not twenty yards into the dark distance. 
And not twenty yards more come others slayed:
The callow youth, yet still with ignorance. 
With Saint Peter hath departed fortune,
And mine life with Bacchus' blessing, returns
In death: the spongy porter. Clementia! Will you impugn
Mine faultless eyes? Oh, heaven's key too often turns!
I grasp with ease the looming earthly death, 
But youthful deaths — let this fire never quell.
Held not two decades of milky breath,
Still green and smooth as their bodies fell, 
Condemned to eternal, witless youth. 
Damn you who pity the Macbeths of new,
Who question their edict, deform the truth,
Who say guns are too far from far too few. 
Curse the porter and this gilded gate,
For dooming searching souls to latency:
"Martyr" is all they had the chance to be.
Do the fallen need hackneyed thoughts and prayers?
Promises, retweets, florid sympathies? 
Will tears do a fire-torn forest repairs?
Revive two hundred and twenty three trees?
Even Pluto's wrath is a fairer storm 
Than the dreams of men follied by Morta's blades:
They would rather classrooms than laws transform,
Use bookshelves over written barricades. 
Hark, are these mad massacres not ensured?
When each weapon falls to each damfool hand, 
With the ease that Macbeth's fate was assured, 
What chance at all do the Young Siwards stand?
Knock, knock, indeed, on Charun's darkened door
Every morning as the schools take them.
Knock, knock, soft sounds on linoleum floor
In time with fire and metallic drum
Knock, knock! Why does your political war
Beg infant deaths for a financial sum?!
Knock, knock, NRA, thou roach, fecal spore
Even the Devil would regorge you, scum. 
The witches are a cruel, far cry from thee, 
For while your weapons crowd these gilded gates,
They must boil infants individually!
Oh America, the land of the free
— Weapons, on demand, row upon row. 
Lo, here nears the black promenade:
Those who dared study unafraid.

now