My daily Shakespeare is a perfect antidote to the mean weather outside. There have not been the havoc-wreaking storms the voices on the wireless were warning about, but it is still very cold and bitter. Inside, there is the warmth and comfort of dancing prose.
This is easily my favourite speech of the day. It is Rosalind to Orlando. In true Shakespearean fashion, she has dressed up as a man and is now making the fooled Orlando pretend to woo her as if she were his adored Rosalind, even though he thinks her a rather saucy boy. He is gusting and sighing and saying he will die for love and she won’t have any of it:
No, faith, die by attorney. The poor world is
almost six thousand years old, and in all this time
there was not any man died in his own person,
videlicit, in a love-cause. Troilus had his brains
dashed out with a Grecian club; yet he did what he
could to die before, and he is one of the patterns
of love. Leander, he would have lived many a fair
year, though Hero had turned nun, if it had not been
for a hot midsummer night; for, good youth, he went
but forth to wash him in the Hellespont and being
taken with the cramp was drowned and the foolish
coroners of that age found it was 'Hero of Sestos.'
But these are all lies: men have died from time to
time and worms have eaten them, but not for love.
And here she is again, in rattling form:
Say 'a day,' without the 'ever.' No, no, Orlando;
men are April when they woo, December when they wed:
maids are May when they are maids, but the sky
changes when they are wives. I will be more jealous
of thee than a Barbary cock-pigeon over his hen,
more clamorous than a parrot against rain, more
new-fangled than an ape, more giddy in my desires
than a monkey: I will weep for nothing, like Diana
in the fountain, and I will do that when you are
disposed to be merry; I will laugh like a hyen, and
that when thou art inclined to sleep.
I especially love the clamorous parrot and the new-fangled ape. Why should an ape be new-fangled? We shall never know.