Monday, June 13, 2011

Poem of the Month - The Passionate Mama's Boy

Reputed portrait of
Christopher Marlowe
When I was studying Renaissance literature, the professor shared a few homage poems written by former students. I was immediately intrigued by the idea of reimagining the works of great writers like Shakespeare and Donne. So I set out to do just that.

After reading and re-reading Christopher Marlowe’s memorable pastoral poem “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love,” I felt ready to tackle the challenge. (I recommend you read the original poem now so you have a point of comparison between it and my version.)

I won’t force you to read the first two efforts. They turned out neither memorable nor pastoral. But I felt I really hit on something with the third and final attempt. So did the professor, who briefly channeled Spenser Tracy when she described the poem as “Cherce!”

(I should mention that “The Passionate Mama’s Boy” and its less illustrious predecessors were all written at a time when I was engaged in a…difficult…relationship.)

The Passionate Mama’s Boy
by Betty Dobson

Come live with me, be my lover -
Take no notice of my mother.
Just give her time, she'll hold you dear;
Besides, she's hardly ever here.

Between her job and her "friends",
Her busy schedule never ends.
You can rearrange the pots and pans,
Clean the cupboards, recycle cans.

Cook whatever suits your palate;
Feed me steak, tofu, or carrot.
I promise you'll receive a treat
Of flowers, fun, or something sweet.

I have nothing, love, without you
Except my butane barbecue.
Bring your cat, your books, your broom;
We'll let you have your own bedroom.

On nights when I'm not working late -
As long as mother's on a date -
We'll find a sitter for the cat
And overturn the welcome mat.

Believe in me, my offer's true -
I've had three years to think this through.
Don't take too long, please, to decide;
I've got to run and catch my ride.

Using classic poetry as direct inspiration is a great way to unlock your creativity. Why not try it with one of your favorites?

"The Passionate Mama's Boy" is included in my poetry collections, Paper Wings, currently available via

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