Category Archives: William Shakespeare

Happy Birthday, Will S.

                               

William Shakespeare was purportedly born today, April 23rd in the year 1564.  He lived until 1616.  An English poet and dramatist of the Elizabethan and early Jacobean era, Shakespeare is probably the most widely known author in all English literature.  I believe his plays are what people think of when Shakepeare is mentioned.  There are 37 plays that are attributed to him and many of these are still read, studied and performed in our time.

It is Shakespeare’s poetry, and specifically his sonnets that encompass his other literary output.  It’s been said that his sonnets are “often marked by a combination of imagination, precision, and deep and sincere emotion that is lacking in the similar work of his contemporaries.”  Perhaps that is why his sonnets likewise continued to be read, recited and studied.

In accordance with National Poetry Month and in honor of Mr. Shakespeare’s birthday, I would like to feature a sonnet of his and also a favorite passage of mine from one of his plays.

Sonnet XCIV (94)
They that have power to hurt and will do none   
That do not do the thing they most do show,   
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,   
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow;   
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense;   
They are the lords and owners of their faces,   
Others but stewards of their excellence.   
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,   
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,   
The basest weed outbraves his dignity:   
  For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;   
  Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.

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From the play The Tempest, Act IV, Scene 1,147-158.  Prospero is speaking:

Be cheerful, sir:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the golden palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

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