Posts Tagged ‘shakespeare’

SONNET 18 – SHAKESPEARE

7 April 2004

Shakespeare is so brilliant that it is quite amazing.  I experimented with a little Shakespeare at school, nothing too serious — but I am afraid that this did eventually lead to more and harder Shakespeare.  It was a slippery slope to the sonnets.

Who hasn’t heard of “The Darling Buds of May”? and “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”;  these are stock phrases today.  But just read the 18th, read and enjoy the language, savour the words, and be enriched by what it evokes.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d:
And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

‘Sonnet XVIII’ William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

I recall that when first I read this poem, I got confused by the word “fair” until I realised he was writing about beauty.

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d.

Just read this as

And everything beautiful will fade either because of
chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d.

As such I have always taken Shakespeare to be talking about a snapshot — a picture or possibly a sculpture, rather than an actual living woman (whose looks will naturally fade). I can even understand this as being about a building, from the architect’s point of view, or a song or piece of music — or even a play.

A man on the radio one day suggested it might be about unrequited love, either through separation or platonic love, and be about the memory induced. What do you think?

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SHAKESPEARE – JULIUS CAESAR III/II

26 March 2003

I was served Shakespeare at High School as part of a subject called “English”, which is strange for all sorts of reasons when you dwell on it.  Anyway, I struggled with the material until Julius Caesar and the following excerpt.

This was the the tipping point for me, after which I “got” Shakespeare.  The rhetoric is poetic here, and I each time I read through even just this piece of text, I discover more.  It is true to say that Shakespeare keeps on giving.

This excerpt is from Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’ Act III Scene II – Rome. The Forum. Brutus, Cassius, and a throng of Citizens enter, Brutus speaks from the Rostrum (Romans, countrymen, and lovers! …), Cassius leaves, then Antony and others arrive carrying Caesar’s body. At this point everyone hates Caesar and loves Brutus. Antony’s fabulous rhetorical argument and wonderful oration soon persuades the crowd to reverse their view…

BRUTUS
Good countrymen, let me depart alone,
And, for my sake, stay here with Antony:
Do grace to Caesar’s corpse, and grace his speech
Tending to Caesar’s glories; which Mark Antony,
By our permission, is allow’d to make.
I do entreat you, not a man depart,
Save I alone, till Antony have spoke.

Exit

First Citizen
Stay, ho! and let us hear Mark Antony.

Third Citizen
Let him go up into the public chair;
We’ll hear him. Noble Antony, go up.

ANTONY
For Brutus’s sake, I am beholding to you.

Goes into the pulpit

Fourth Citizen
What does he say of Brutus?

Third Citizen
He says, for Brutus’s sake,
He finds himself beholding to us all.

Fourth Citizen
‘Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here.

First Citizen
This Caesar was a tyrant.

Third Citizen
Nay, that’s certain:
We are blest that Rome is rid of him.

Second Citizen
Peace! let us hear what Antony can say.

ANTONY
You gentle Romans,–

Citizens
Peace, ho! let us hear him.

ANTONY
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest–
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men–
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

First Citizen
Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.

Second Citizen
If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Caesar has had great wrong.

Third Citizen
Has he, masters?
I fear there will a worse come in his place.

Fourth Citizen
Mark’d ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.

First Citizen
If it be found so, some will dear abide it.

Second Citizen
Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.

Third Citizen
There’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.

Fourth Citizen
Now mark him, he begins again to speak.

ANTONY
But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world; now lies he there.
And none so poor to do him reverence.
O masters, if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong,
Who, you all know, are honourable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Than I will wrong such honourable men.
But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar;
I found it in his closet, ’tis his will:
Let but the commons hear this testament–
Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read–
And they would go and kiss dead Caesar’s wounds
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood,
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as a rich legacy
Unto their issue.

Fourth Citizen
We’ll hear the will: read it, Mark Antony.

All
The will, the will! we will hear Caesar’s will.

ANTONY
Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it;
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but men;
And, being men, bearing the will of Caesar,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
‘Tis good you know not that you are his heirs;
For, if you should, O, what would come of it!

Fourth Citizen
Read the will; we’ll hear it, Antony;
You shall read us the will, Caesar’s will.

ANTONY
Will you be patient? will you stay awhile?
I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it:
I fear I wrong the honourable men
Whose daggers have stabb’d Caesar; I do fear it.

Fourth Citizen
They were traitors: honourable men!

All
The will! the testament!

Second Citizen
They were villains, murderers: the will! read the will.

ANTONY
You will compel me, then, to read the will?
Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar,
And let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? and will you give me leave?

Several Citizens
Come down.

Second Citizen
Descend.

Third Citizen
You shall have leave.

ANTONY comes down

Fourth Citizen
A ring; stand round.

First Citizen
Stand from the hearse, stand from the body.

Second Citizen
Room for Antony, most noble Antony.

ANTONY
Nay, press not so upon me; stand far off.

Several Citizens
Stand back; room; bear back.

ANTONY
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
You all do know this mantle: I remember
The first time ever Caesar put it on;
‘Twas on a summer’s evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii:
Look, in this place ran Cassius’s dagger through:
See what a rent the envious Casca made:
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d;
And as he pluck’d his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it,
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved
If Brutus so unkindly knock’d, or no;
For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel:
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms,
Quite vanquish’d him: then burst his mighty heart;
And, in his mantle muffling up his face,
Even at the base of Pompey’s statua,
Which all the while ran blood, great Caesar fell.
O, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I, and you, and all of us fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourish’d over us.
O, now you weep; and, I perceive, you feel
The dint of pity: these are gracious drops.
Kind souls, what, weep you when you but behold
Our Caesar’s vesture wounded? Look you here,
Here is himself, marr’d, as you see, with traitors.

First Citizen
O piteous spectacle!

Second Citizen
O noble Caesar!

Third Citizen
O woful day!

Fourth Citizen
O traitors, villains!

First Citizen
O most bloody sight!

Second Citizen
We will be revenged.

All
Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay!
Let not a traitor live!

ANTONY
Stay, countrymen.

First Citizen
Peace there! hear the noble Antony.

Second Citizen
We’ll hear him, we’ll follow him, we’ll die with him.

ANTONY
Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honourable:
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it: they are wise and honourable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar’s wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.

All
We’ll mutiny.

First Citizen
We’ll burn the house of Brutus.

Third Citizen
Away, then! come, seek the conspirators.

ANTONY
Yet hear me, countrymen; yet hear me speak.

All
Peace, ho! Hear Antony. Most noble Antony!

ANTONY
Why, friends, you go to do you know not what:
Wherein hath Caesar thus deserved your loves?
Alas, you know not: I must tell you then:
You have forgot the will I told you of.

All
Most true. The will! Let’s stay and hear the will.

ANTONY
Here is the will, and under Caesar’s seal.
To every Roman citizen he gives,
To every several man, seventy-five drachmas.

Second Citizen
Most noble Caesar! We’ll revenge his death.

Third Citizen
O royal Caesar!

ANTONY
Hear me with patience.

All
Peace, ho!

ANTONY
Moreover, he hath left you all his walks,
His private arbours and new-planted orchards,
On this side Tiber; he hath left them you,
And to your heirs for ever, common pleasures,
To walk abroad, and recreate yourselves.
Here was a Caesar! when comes such another?

First Citizen
Never, never. Come, away, away!
We’ll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors’ houses.
Take up the body.

Second Citizen
Go fetch fire.

Third Citizen
Pluck down benches.

Fourth Citizen
Pluck down forms, windows, any thing.

Exeunt Citizens with the body

ANTONY
Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt!

‘Julius Caesar’ Act III Scene II, William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

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