Commedia dell’Arte by Charl Landsberg

Charl Landsberg | August 3rd, 2012 | poetry | No Comments

[tabs tab1=”Poem” tab2=”Glossary” tab3=”Poet Bio”]

Are you happy with me
Here where I stand?
Jester in your court
I stand
Your loyal servant
I stand
All day
My feet pain
Ready with a joke
With a witty reply
The prepared anecdote
To make you laugh
And you laugh heartily
With the food gurgling
In your gullet
Laugh at me
While I whisper
Some advice into your ear
And you call me
To advise you when none look
And I answer as best I can
With the very marrow of my bones
Your harlequin
Your loyal servant
In my bright clothes
And my silly walk
As I stand eager
To snatch the gold
From your fingers
That I may go home
And my children will say
“Zanni have you food for us”
And I will say
“Not much”
And my children will say
“But weren’t you funny?
You are a Zanni?”
And I will say
“Very. I was very funny
But our master
Does not get the real joke.”

Poet Bio

Commedia dell’Arte is a style of theatre in which arose in the late 16th Century often involving actors dressed in masks as clowns and harlequins. The various types of clowns have their own characters and even silly walks and traits. An interesting note in this regard is that female characters were played by women, which is unusual in this age as we know that in, for instance, Shakespearean plays female characters were played by men.

Zanni or Zani is a kind of clown in this style of theatre although they arose in the early fourteenth century long before the Commedia dell’Arte. They were often known for being the trickster character or the servant that ‘thinks above their station’. Usually they are masked and wear baggy or ill fitting clothes. In this poem however, I would say that the character is not literally a Zanni (a character in a play), but this is rather how he feels about himself as the clown and not a respected, rich and powerful man’s servant or adviser.
Charl Landsberg is a poet passionately concerned about issues of class, race, poverty, sexuality and religion. His poetry reflects not only a critique of the structures of abuse themselves but also with the human suffering involved giving his poetry a personal tone.

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