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Today I speaklight because yesterdays I listened dark

In February 2024, Dr Yewande Okuleye read her poem ‘Today I speaklight because yesterdays I listened dark’ at an event called ‘Shakespeare’s First Folio: Bringing the Book Alive.’

Bringing the Book Alive was hosted by the Friends of Senate House Library as part of the Shakespeare’s First Folios: A 400 Year Journey exhibition. 

You can read the full poem below. 


'Today I speaklight because yesterdays I listened dark' by Yewande Okuleye


After the night stars your day starts when your dawn breaks 
- Yorùbá Queen Mother speaks.

No body.                     “No one placed a loving hand on my swollen belly. I felt a 
                                     warm blot.   And that was my lot. It was too late.” She speaks.

foolish young girl 
turns wise woman today                                                                    
unfurl red white 
exquisite midwife 
of lives lived through 
lives lived by many lives
are these all lies?                                                                          

pale ideas swarm 
bloated clouds obnubilate                  
dainty spells unburrow 
like earthworms mating in rain
earth breathe unease                                                 
million plus one eyes protrude to deliver us from sin
alas a slow row pricking of alabaster skin
I wishe thee ease of all thy paine                                                       

we breathe our last breath                 dead delirious 
different times we meet again                                                                       
two souls contort 
monozygotic twins
conjoined memories expunged 
when you feel the payne
of their burning flesh you impressed
smelt like the glow of their bellows 
that howled at night in search of shade

will charred deeds revive? 
atone the few by the many?
who waits for me to caress magnetic truths 
across time I stand in front of?
I stand well 
òtító behind me
ó wà l’ẹ́ ẹ̀hìn mi 
assurance envelops me 
today I speak

today I remember today I honour today I speakact I today without delay 
Anne Hathaway 


òtító: Truth

ó wà l’ẹ́ ẹ̀hìn mi: Something exists behind me

Reprinted from Anne-thology: Poems Re-Presenting Anne Shakespeare, eds Paul Edmondson, Aaron Kent, Chris Laoutaris and Katherine Scheil, with permission from Broken Sleep Books (2023).