Richard III Funeral – Benedict Cumberbatch

Its’ been a rather surreal week with the internment of the body of Richard III. A wonderful spectacle and hopefully a prompt for many schools and the public in general both in England and around the world, to learn more about King Richard III. In between many of the rather insipid ‘What do you reckon?’ interviews with various passers by (as aptly described in the Mitchell and Webb sketch below)

plus the usual regurgitation from Mr. Starkey, some of the messages about Richard III’s progressive views regarding religion, the law and publishing did come through.

The perfect choice to read this 14-line poem, written by Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy especially for the service of reinterment of Richard III at Leicester Cathedral, was Benedict Cumberbatch. A happy co-incidence for Cumberbatch is that he’s playing Richard III as part of the Hollow Crown series. It has also been revealed that he’s very very distantly related. Not bad PR for Mr Cumberbatch and I certainly don’t begrudge him it, he’s a wonderful talent. (One might say that distantly almost anyone in England is related – but I can almost guarantee that won’t include me!)

Richard

My bones, scripted in light, upon cold soil,
a human braille. My skull, scarred by a crown,
emptied of history. Describe my soul
as incense, votive, vanishing; your own
the same. Grant me the carving of my name.

These relics, bless. Imagine you re-tie
a broken string and on it thread a cross,
the symbol severed from me when I died.
The end of time – an unknown, unfelt loss –
unless the Resurrection of the Dead …

or I once dreamed of this, your future breath
in prayer for me, lost long, forever found;
or sensed you from the backstage of my death,
as kings glimpse shadows on a battleground.

We are so cynical and superficial these days that the whole process might seems almost laughable and yet, there is something spiritually intriguing around how ceremony, rites, prayers and collective thoughts can make us feel. The man doesn’t care, he’s dead – yet if there is some place beyond the grave, has some good been done?