Rapping with Romeo


Sarah J. Donovan invited me to post prompts to celebrate APRIL POETRY MONTH.  Here’s one from her website:  on ETHICAL ELA.


Many of you who accepted this “Poem A Day” invitation have read plays by William Shakespeare and may even have a favorite. One of my favorites that seldom gets dropped from high school reading lists is ROMEO AND JULIET. Did you read this one? Have you seen any of the adaptations of the play on the stage, at the opera house, or in the movies? You’ll acknowledge that even though the play itself is over 400 years old, the themes are contemporary. One that I’d like you to consider today does not relate neither to teenage romance nor suicide, but to the redeeming power of love.


Today, reflect on your memories of a play by Shakespeare (his birthday is around the corner, 4/23/1564), a recent reading, observation or experience related to the redeeming power of love.

Then, in keeping with the idea of timeless and timely, listen to the rap beats laid over the theme song Nino Rota composed for the 1968 Zeffirelli film about Romeo and Juliet.

In whatever words come to you, write your memories of redeeming love.

Now, arrange them in words that can be read to the 21st century beat, to the 20th century Romeo and Juliet theme song.


Here’s my attempt to do what I’ve asked you to do. I’m in awe of the men and women who spend their time working with teens, especially those who may not be doing well in school. While their experiences may not be exactly like that of Romeo and Juliet, today’s teen may have someone like Friar Lawrence who encourages them to love not hate. Here’s my rap in honor of those community activists. Will you share your poetic reflection or tribute?

Romeo Rap  (Rap Beats begin after the intro)

Cruising *knightly with our homies
Hanging out much too late.
Getting into so much trouble
Just because of hate.

Reverend Joe, he’s a minister
Walking around our ‘hood.
Warning us not to act so sinister.
Saying we should be good.

“Get your learning,”
He would tell us.
“Each of you could be earning
More than you think you could,
More than you thought you would.
Now let’s get going like you should.

“Don’t be hanging with your crew
Doing what you should not do;
Staying out much too late
Attracting trouble because of hate.

“Come on, knights,” he keeps coaxing.
“Come on, knights,” he keeps on cajoling
“Time to neutralize that hate.
Spread some good! It’s not too late.

“Come on, knights,” he keeps cajoling.
Come on, knights,” he keeps on coaxing.
“Time to neutralize that hate!
Spread some good! It’s not too late.

It’s time neutralize that hate.
Let’s spread some good! It’s not too late.”

Sad Love Piano Violin Rap Beat Hip Hop Instrumental 2014 – Romeo & Juliet (FishBeats)

*Yes, I intentionally used this pun to remind us that some teens believe they are protecting their neighborhoods, as did the knights of old. Our Reverend Joes, like Romeo’s Friar Lawrence, are calling on the better angels within our teens, to act out of love, not hate for “the other”.

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