Setebos by Ted Hughes begins with the lines 'Who could play Miranda, only you/ Ferdinand only me.' Hughes uses the characters and themes of Shakespeare's The Tempest as well as the conscious stagecraft that is so important to that particular narrative. The following is a fictional response to that poem but my response uses some of the key ideas in Macbeth.
It was not Sycorax who you heard
in the wings
but the three witches on the heath
plotting in thunder and lightning and wind.
I was not, could not, play Miranda
for my innocence was lost well before
It was the gall in my breasts
and the croak of the raven
that played the music, not Ariel's song.
And you, always the onstage hero
to those who could not know
The man who vanquished
and yet followed the darkness of Tarquin's path.
I waited, and waited, knowing
that the scorpions in your mind
were simply the serpents in mine
The blood on your hands never
and the milk of human kindness
in your public soliloquies.
You cry at Sycorax, at Setebos,
Yet you forgive the forest that moved at Dunsinane,
the man of no woman born
the lament of young Malcolm
whilst I remain
just behind the curtains
seeing your ghosts
desperately hoping the brief candle
will protect me from the coming of the
You grieve for tomorrow
and call for your harness
and your sword
but not your wife.
Hereafter may have seemed an option for you
but the blood