Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Recent Shakespeare Favo(u)rites

Poetry round-up with Susan returns!  A little different from last time:  I don't have these memorized, and we're exclusively Shakespeare-themed today, but this is some of the poetry I've been loving lately:



Selections from Shakespeare's Richard III 

I follow @IAM_SHAKESPEARE on Twitter, which is probably my favorite bot on the internet.  Are all the bots in your life trying to spam you?  Well, then, it's time to acquaint yourself with the Twitter account that has been programmed to continuously tweet all of Shakespeare's plays (and maybe his sonnets??) at the rate of one line every ten minutes.  Delightful thing, really.  The other day it was catching my eye and I discovered we were in the middle of Richard III's amazing monologue from the eponymous play: 

O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me!
The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? myself? there's none else by:
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am:
Then fly. What, from myself? Great reason why:
Lest I revenge. What, myself upon myself?
Alack. I love myself. Wherefore? for any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O, no! alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself!
I am a villain: yet I lie. I am not.
Fool, of thyself speak well: fool, do not flatter.
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.

(Act V, Scene 2)

(Bolded emphasis added by me, of course.  That is the part that made me turn my head and say, "That is no mere mortal tweeting!") 

If you haven't acquainted yourself with Shakespeare's deliciously diabolical Richard, you should.  Here, do it now.  You don't even have to move. 


Sonnet 154

More Shakespeare (surprise!):  the last sonnet in his sonnet cycle.  I remember reading this when I was a young teenager and thinking it was pretty but having not the faintest mumbling of a clue what it was about.  Now I have the (over)confidence to say I understand it completely.  These moments of noticing the effects of a liberal education are sweet.

But seriously, this poem is a beautiful, important thing.  

154.
The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vow'd chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm'd;
And so the general of hot desire was sleeping by a virgin hand disarm'd.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by, [<--notice how the rhythm slows down here! the fire is cooling! *ahem* carry on...]
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseased; but I, my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure, and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love. 


Greetings from Susan and the Bard....


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