Iago by Wilbur D. Nesbit

Poem for children about Shakespeare's Iago

Iago as a villain was a master of his craft,
And yet he did not work at all as modern villains do;
No one can rise and say that bold Iago hoarsely laughed
When some one demonstrated that his stories were untrue.
He did not swagger on the stage in evening clothes, and mutter,
Nor bite his finger nails in baffled anger now and then;
He never turned and left the stage with nothing else to utter
Except: “Aha! Proud beauty! I shall not be foiled again!”

Iago did not hover near the old deserted mill
To hurl the daring hero in the waters of the race;
He never frowned and ground his teeth and burned the hidden will
Or kidnapped any children just to complicate the case.
Iago was not like the villains that we have at present;
He didn’t even try to scowl or to look like the part.
Iago as a villain was continually pleasant,
And never gave the notion that he had a stony heart.

Othello was his victim—and Iago’s work was good,
But still Iago doesn’t seem to get the proper praise;
Othello, as the hero—as all proper heroes should—
Stood calmly in the spotlight and corralled the wreathing bays.
Since then there is no villain of the art of good Iago—
At least we haven’t seen an actor who approached him yet;
The villains we have noticed from Galveston to Chicago
Have hissed through black mustaches and have smoked the cigarette.