Posted by: John Looker | 15 June, 2016

Julius Caesar In The 21st Century

Julius Caesar In The 21st Century

(thoughts prompted by Shakespeare’s play)


In the Forum,
we stand among the crowd and lend our ears
to whosoever’s rhetoric is balm. 

Those men in togas! All so ambitious:
one’s greedy to bestride the little Earth
like a Colossus;

another has a lean and hungry look –
he thinks too much
and this we do not like. 

How hot it is! But some Mark Antony,
who always had our hearts, borrows our minds
and moulds them easily. 

We run headlong through the streets
the dust rising beneath our feet.


© John Looker 2016

This is the fourth of five personal reflections in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.



  1. Treacherous thing to do– borrow and replant some of the gaudiest flowers of our language! But it mostly workspace just fine…the final image caps the performances with an originals and post symbolic move that reflects on the rising of the motes of dust as a metaphor for the rising of the finely sifted phrases in this new setting, or am I seeing things?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Please forgive typos but John’s workspace is precisely what I’m interested in!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That means a lot, coming from you – thank you Tom. It was a risky thing to do – you’re right.


        • Hi John… would you contact me outside of wordpress channels for a quick ‘conversation’?


  2. Reblogged this on chithankalai.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It does seem, doesn’t it, John, that Julius Caesar and William Shakespeare both provide us with a perennial garden from which to gather our own bouquets and arrange them in the crystal vases of our time, as you have so aptly done here.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Doesn’t it just! And then Shakespeare himself gathered ideas and material from Plutarch’s ‘Lives’, I understand.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Then there’s the woman (it was told to me this way, a woman) who disliked Shakespeare because his plays were full of famous quotes. Didn’t he write anything original? I particularly like (if that’s the word) the scene where the crowd jumps all over Cinna, the poet. It seems so gratuitous and necessary to the play.
    This is a nice tribute to the old boy. (Did Shakespeare give us ‘old boy’?)
    I think I’ll let mine stand (or fall) with ‘Olives of Endless Age’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cinna? Yes, and mistaken identity – there’s something so true to life there. I enjoyed your ‘Olives’ tribute, Jim
      (Apropos mistaken identity: my spell checker tried twice to substitute China for Cinna!)


  5. I’m off to see Julius Caesar by Door Shakespeare on August 15th, my birthday, with my daughter who teaches high school English, her family, and Ethel, so seeing this is really a treat. Oh, the people in power! What a crew they are. And Mark Antony! I enjoyed this, John, a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please excuse my slow response Tom – life here in the UK has been remarkably busy the last few days – but thank you, and it sounds like you and your family are in for a treat.


  6. I enjoyed this clever poem in which you borrow so many phrases from Shakespeare. I didn’t know that he borrowed much from others but am glad that he did for otherwise the words might not have crept into our daily vocabulary. I believe that it was his brilliant tutelage which made it happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for that – I’m sorry to have been slow responding (events here in the UK have been overwhelming the last few days).


  7. Is Donald Trump in the U.S.?
    Those men in togas! All so ambitious:
    one’s greedy to bestride the little Earth
    like a Colossus
    I nominate him and most of the Republicans who just ran for Presidents.
    I’m sure you could nominate some Britons.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m enjoying your Shakespeare series a lot, John.
    I remember when first reading Shakespeare’s Caesar how much like a 20th Century demagogue Marc Antony sounded – the bitterness and sarcasm rising to rage… I can’t imagine there were many public speeches like it in Shakespeare’s time though, which again shows his uncanny grasp of human nature.


    • You make a strong point Andy: like you I see parallels between Shakespeare’s play and modern times but, as you say, Shakespeare’s time itself would have been rather different!


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