Birth of the Bard

Today is Shakespeare’s Birthday, we assume.
Three days hence the books note his baptism
Counting backwards experts all presume
For natal days, this one must be his’n.

Wrote sonnets and some pretty famous plays.
Penned some lines that surely are immortal.
With “bated breath” and other turns of phrase
that give us pause and cause enough to chortle.

No bigger star in scribb’ling has there been,
Nor likely will there be tomorrow.
All who write have lost ‘fore they begin.
Naught to do but read, admire and borrow.

What gift for Shakespeare’s birthday? But of course!
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

What’s your favorite line from Shakespeare?

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58 thoughts on “Birth of the Bard”

  1. dale a masterpiece thous hast presenteth
    to us in this spring of discontenteth
    bravo on thy rhyming brain
    thy shakepear verse and its refrain
    delight the mornings wry awakening
    make it more as we are takening
    all the history and celebration
    of shakespear and all his creations
    words that sprang forth like timeless treasures
    and gave us all the man and how we measure
    all the wordsmiths of all the times
    and how they meanifully present their rhymes/

    as for my favorite i have chosen one
    it is a difficult task but must be done
    thank you dale for this days begining
    may the rest of the day be half as winning

    Such stuff as dreams are made on

    Prospero:
    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 tow’rs, the gorgeous 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.

    The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158

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    1. Perhaps thou art the Bard of this new century.

      I would like to point out that on “Talk like Shakespeare Day” on the Trail, Verily, Sherilee was coined.

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  2. Rise and Shineth, oh thou Baboons!

    Despite my inability to produce really good Shakespearean prose, I do love a Shakespear play. Here are 2 favorite quotes:

    Me thinks (the lady or fill in the blank) protests too much. Hamlet
    First thing we do, we kill all the lawyers. Henry VI (I had a coffee cup with this quote on it when I worked at a Minnesota county. It was stolen)

    Trivia: My English ancestors, also the source of my last name, were Quakers who emigrated from Stratford on Avon to the Penn colony in 1702. They are buried in what is now New Jersey in the New Medford cemetary. My last name, Stratton has something to do with Stratford (allegedly “Strat” is a derivative of straight). Because we have writers in the family I like to fantasize that perhaps one of my ancestors is descended from a Shakespearean maid gone wrong.

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  3. 116
    Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
    That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wandering bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

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      1. I was thinking of listing that one because I DID use it for wedding #1. But, because that only lasted 9 years, I felt uneasy mentioning it. In my case, it bent with the remover to remove (I wasn’t the remover). I do love the sound of “bending sickle’s compass come”.

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      2. I don’t object to it for a wedding; it just feels to me like looking back on a marriage and not looking forward. The pastor who married us did not want to do so because he was sure it would not last because we got married so fast. Can’t say his alarms were not correct from his point of view. But he later went off the deep end of the conservative dock.

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  4. Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
    So far from variation or quick change?
    Why with the time do I not glance aside
    To new-found methods and to compounds strange?
    Why write I still all one, ever the same,
    And keep invention in a noted weed,
    That every word doth almost tell my name,
    Showing their birth and where they did proceed?

    76

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  5. A plague upon these pickled herrings!

    I am a great eater of beef, but I fear it has done harm to my wit.

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  6. It’s hard to pick just one since there are so many phrases and bits that an fit into whatever your current situation: “blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!” from King Lear is good in winter (and arguments with someone full of hot air), “what, with my tongue in your tail?” from Taming of the Shrew is good when you are feeling a bit naughty and flirtatious, and when you are in need of an apology, Puck’s final words from Midsummer Night’s Dream might fit the bill, “If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumber’d here whilst these visions did appear…give me your hands if we be friends and Robin share restore amends.”

    Shakespeare has also given us one of the best stage directions written, “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

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  7. …But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
    I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood…

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  8. I think it was Mark Twain who observed that one problem with Shakespeare is how his writing is so full of famous quotations.

    My favorite line might be “Out, out, damned spot!” I’ve used it over and over, addressing the ten dogs I have lived with.

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  9. Good morning to all. I still haven’t got over being required to read Shakespear in high school and not enjoying it very much. I’m sure I would be a bigger fan of Shakespear if I could have discovered his writing on my own without being forced to read it. However, “all the world is a stage” filled with lines from Shakespear so I can’t avoid him even if he isn’t one of my favorites.

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  10. When I was an undergrad, I took a year of Shakespeare with Tony Bukowski at UWS. Fantastic class taught by one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. Class was Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We would read one act for each class, which was typically only 2-3 pages. That allowed us to take our time to digest this material that is so dense and rich. Then we would sit in a large circle and discuss it as a group of interested people, not just a ‘class.’ We were completely open to new ways of interpreting it and everyone brought their own personal experiences and expertise. It was a very open class, more focused on getting everything we could out of the masterful writing, rather than just pining for a grade. Great class. Great experience.

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    1. Excellent teacher and man, Tony. I did graduate work there. He gave me some excellent criticism of my first efforts at fiction. He, Roger Forseth, Leo Hertzel. Not very often find three English professors so driven by their students and not the material,

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  11. Who knew this many sayings we still have came from Shakespeare! Everything but the kitchen sink, as it were… Can’t pick just one.

    Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep (“Still waters run deep”) (2 Henry VI)
    All that glitters is not gold.(The Merchant of Venice)(“glisters”)
    Wild goose-chase (Romeo and Juliet)
    Brevity is the soul of wit. (Hamlet)

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  12. To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
    To the last syllable of recorded time;
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more. It is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

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  13. My presence on here will be hit or miss for the next many days, assuming all goes right tomorrow and all 6 people get cleared for the chain and my daughter gives her kidney on Wednesday. We are babysitting by Sleepy eye some days, in Rochester some days, here in Mankato taking care of our daughter some days.,

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  14. It is a wise father that knows his own child.
    William Shakespeare

    My own father died 20 years ago today. He was a member of Mensa, but I wouldn’t have called him wise.

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  15. I’ve always loved this line, which first came to my attention when it was the basis of a song in “Hair.”

    What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
    infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
    admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
    a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals.

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    1. Yes, I thought of this too, Steve. For the uninitiated, in “Hair” it was used as the height of irony.

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  16. You learn something new every day; I didn’t know Shakespeare was responsible for the term “elbow room”. One of those turns of phrase that is so perfectly descriptive of a concept, it’s hard to imagine what people said before “elbow room” was coined.

    And if Shakespeare hadn’t said it, we wouldn’t have this:

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  17. Where else can I go and have Ian McKellan doing “Macbet”, and Gillian Welch doing “50 Miles of Elbow Room” on the same day?

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  18. When I was a music major at St. Olaf back in the day, I sang this for my senior recital. Too bad I have no video of me doing this (or maybe it is a blessing for all concerned), but this will have to suffice. Imagine a white girl in a yellow gingham dress instead!

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    1. Wow! Were you a voice major, Lisa? My mom was (Iowa State Teachers College, now SUI), and wanted to be an opera singer, so I grew up hearing all kinds of arias.

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  19. Here is a question for all the Learned Thebans (King Lear) on the trail. Daughter is singing tonight in a college/high school/community/children’s choir production of Carmina Burana. Are the texts that Orff used pre or post Shakespeare?

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      1. Barbara, there is an opportunity to sing it on June 10th if you can manage to attend at least 8 rehearsals between now and then. I’ve sung it before and it is great fun. If you’re interested, write me at lpsinclair7982 at yahoodotcom and I’ll send you the details.

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  20. My daughter is leaving for Rochester and our grand children just panicked for her to go, which came from them hearing people telling stories to their mother. They will get over it, but thank you to all those folks. My daughter could write a long list of stupid and pointless things people have said to her.

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    1. Clyde, I’m sure she can. Most of those things are not said in malice or with any ill intent, but a lot of people just don’t THINK before they speak. I’m hopeful that she has enough thoughtful and supportive friends to see her through this sacrifice and generous gift that she has chosen to make. I wish her well and am sending her entire family, you and your wife included, warm thoughts and healing energy.

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  21. I don’t know why, but this passage from Henry V always gives me shivers and goosebumps :)

    (It’s only the end of it…it’s quite long)
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    All of these quotes make me want to go back and read some more Shakespeare. It’s been a very long time…

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