Friday, 6 January 2017

365 Days of Shakespeare.


On I go, with my new play. It’s really quite an eccentric story, but perhaps I notice that more because I don’t know it. A lot of Shakespeare is very eccentric and I think that he must have had so much fun, throwing all the rules out of the window. He certainly followed his whims where they took him and maybe that was part of what made him great. One gets the sense that a lot of the time he really did not give a damn.

And then, just as I am laughing or raising an eyebrow or thinking what? what? he smashes me with pure beauty, like in this speech of Helena’s, which is so filled with lovely language that I read it three times.

Helena:
Poor lord! Is’t I
That chase thee from my country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim; move the still-peering air,
That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord.

Later, two tremendous lords appear, who are funny and interesting and unexpected.
This one has a fine turn for the frankly insulting -
Second Lord:
He’s a most notable coward, an infinite and
endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner
of no one good quality worthy your lordship’s
entertainment.

Well, that’s him told. I especially like the ‘hourly promise-breaker’. I know a couple of those.

And there is this line, which pleases me mightily, I’m not quite sure why. It has such a mordant and comical cadence -
First Lord:

Yes, yes, do let him fetch his drum, for the love of laughter.

The Second Lord then whacks me with something I absolutely do not understand -

Second Lord:
I must go look my twigs.

I have not the wildest idea what this could mean, but I absolutely love it. I am certainly going to go look my twigs at once.


The plot is getting rather Byzantine now, and I frown at the page as it twists and turns. I don’t really understand the motivation of half the characters but somehow that does not matter. I fulfil the first duty of the Dear Reader, and suspend my disbelief. I follow the beauty where it takes me.

3 comments:

  1. For the twigs alone, 2017 is looking up. Thank you for that phrase, haven't giggled so much for months! Rachel

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  2. Last year, I decided to start memorizing the soliloquies of Hamlet (and some others), and one of my all time favorites is this:

    "Seems, madam? Nay, it is - I know not "seems". 'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother, nor customary suits of solemn black. Nor windy suspiration of forced breath, no, nor the fruitful river in the eye, the dejected haviour of the visage, together with all moods, forms, shapes of grief that can denote me truly.

    For I have that within which passeth show - these, but the trappings and the suits of woe."

    I love it so much that I have that last line tattooed on my left arm, in memory of the day my father died. Hamlet spoke these lines regarding the death of his father, and it just resonated with me so strongly.

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