I have been regaling my wife with a daily dose of Shakespeare. I say regale, I think she would say something else.
I know Shakespeare can be a little dry, even convoluted to making a point. But in these ancient writings, it still carries as much impact as they did in the late 1500s and early 1600s.
But why is Shakespeare still popular?
With all of the great writers who have spanned the decades since Shakespeare had left leafy Stratford and plied his musings to the people of London.
Shakespeare and use of language lives with us to this day. I was told just the other day ‘not to wait with baited breathe.’
How about ‘green eyed monster’ or ‘to send them packing.’
These words and phrases are enshrined in our language even today and in the absence of formal learning, if someone says to you ‘this makes your hair stand on end.’ You know implicitly what the person is saying: would you be surprised to now the providences of this saying is a Shakespearian saying? You should go and check other well known phrases which have intertwined in our everyday language.
Shakespeare is as much tied to the cultural heritage of this great country, as much as the Royal Family, Yorkshire Puddings and Spotted Dick (to my American brothers and sisters, spotted dick is a stodgy desert–and my favorite). I make no apologies when referring food either. It’s something I think about a lot. Sex too, but food in equal measure. I’m a man. Flawed and everything.
The other reason for Shakespeares enduring popularity; he has managed to tick all of the boxes when it comes to character arch’s and story templates.
There isn’t anything he hasn’t covered in terms of story construct. As a writer myself, he gave us everything we could ever possibly need as a template to construct our own stories.
The only difference between Hamlet and my books is the meat and potatoes of the story. The trope of writing remains the same. It’s like following a blueprint to how your story should be formed. Ignoring the principles of this at your own peril. When the wheel was invented, it didn’t really need perfecting, right?
Back to the Book of Shakespeare Everyday. I read the text aloud. When finished we often just look at each other wondering what that was all about and trying to make uneducated guesses what the text truly meant. Sometimes pinging a text to my English teacher Daughter, Devon. Who in classic teacher style answers my dumbass questions with a question.
And two days ago when I was reading something. It hit me like a jolt of lightening.
A piece of work by Shakespeare bore into my soul and did something inexplicable. I was left moved for the remainder of the day. Even now, the monologue of Richard II is still resonating and giving me goosebumps. And I want to share this with you.
Take a seat, take a deep breathe, close your eyes and centre your mind. Keep out the noise of everything around you and take your time to read this piece of work by the maestro himself, Messrs William Shakespeare.
I hope it moves you too. And with our own Coronation very soon. Its couldn’t be more poignant.
No matter where – of comfort no man speak.
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs,
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
Let’s choose executors and talk of wills.
And yet not so – for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives, and all, are Bolingbroke’s,
And nothing can we call our own but death;
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been depos’d, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,
Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping kill’d,
All murdered – for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court, and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d, and kill with looks;
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable; and, humour’d thus,
Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence; throw away respect,
Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty;
For you have but mistook me all this while.
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends – subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?