Tuesday, 24 January 2017

365 Days of Shakespeare.

Comedy of Errors.


I missed my Shakespeare yesterday, as the day galloped away with me. This day was almost galloping too, but I sternly said: I can stop and have ten minutes of beauty. And the very first lines I read were these:

It is thyself, mine own self's better part,
Mine eye's clear eye, my dear heart's dearer heart,
My food, my fortune and my sweet hope's aim,
My sole earth's heaven and my heaven's claim.

There. That is beauty for you.

And, in a wicked twist of genius, Shakespeare then goes from swoony beauty to a festival of insults. Dromio and Antipholus have a very, very naughty conversation about a most unattractive woman. It is obviously very unsisterly of me to find this so funny, but I can’t help it. The whole exchange is much longer than this, and if you want to look it up, it is Act III, Scene II.  

Here is a little taster:
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Then she bears some breadth?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
No longer from head to foot than from hip to hip:
she is spherical, like a globe; I could find out
countries in her.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
In what part of her body stands Ireland?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
Marry, in her buttocks: I found it out by the bogs.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Where Scotland?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
I found it by the barrenness; hard in the palm of the hand.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Where France?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
In her forehead; armed and reverted, making war
against her heir.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Where England?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
I looked for the chalky cliffs, but I could find no
whiteness in them; but I guess it stood in her chin,
by the salt rheum that ran between France and it.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Where Spain?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
Faith, I saw it not; but I felt it hot in her breath.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Where America, the Indies?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
Oh, sir, upon her nose all o'er embellished with
rubies, carbuncles, sapphires, declining their rich
aspect to the hot breath of Spain; who sent whole
armadoes of caracks to be ballast at her nose.
ANTIPHOLUS OF SYRACUSE
Where stood Belgia, the Netherlands?
DROMIO OF SYRACUSE
Oh, sir, I did not look so low. To conclude, this
drudge, or diviner, laid claim to me, call'd me
Dromio; swore I was assured to her; told me what
privy marks I had about me, as, the mark of my
shoulder, the mole in my neck, the great wart on my
left arm, that I amazed ran from her as a witch:
And, I think, if my breast had not been made of
faith and my heart of steel,
She had transform'd me to a curtal dog and made
me turn i' the wheel.

Naughty, naughty, naughty. But irresistible.

There is another excellent insult later on – ‘thou peevish sheep’. I can just see a peevish sheep now, all ornery and pissed off.


And then, one more final line of beauty – ‘here we wander in illusions’. Yes, yes, that will do.

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