Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Shakespeare

The bard turns 445 today, and his relevance remains, along with his fan base. All over the internet people are chatting about their personal favorites from Shakespeare's vast array of work.

I find it very difficult to narrow it down to one work or one quotation, but today I was thinking about Caliban's beautiful speech from The Tempest, in which this "uncivilized" creature waxes poetic about the notion of the island's magical beauty:

"Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had wak'd after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that when I wak'd,
I cried to dream again . . . "

My husband's favorite line comes from Julius Caesar, when the resentful Cassius speaks of Caesar's unquestionable power:

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves that we are underlings."

It's hard to fault either his diction or his impeccable iambic pentameter. How wonderful it would be to travel back in time to meet the fellow who wrote these words (whether they truly belong to the man named Shakespeare or not--that is a debate for another post. :)


Eric Mayer said...

Yes, it is amazing enough that anyone can find such thoughts and the perfect words to express them, let alone do it in verse.

Julia Buckley said...

It's like he was a poetic superhero. :)

Chester Campbell said...

One of Shakespeare's works I recall vividly after all these years is "The Seven Ages of Man." The opening is particularly memorable:

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players, They have their exits and entrances ..."

Julia Buckley said...

Which incorporates both his love for drama (and its relationship to life) and the rather existential attitude embraced by so many of his characters.