33 Days of Shakespeare
Shakespeare wrote his plays over 400 years ago, but he’s still an intrinsic part of our lives. Did you know you probably quote him every day and don’t even know it? It’s true. He’s in our daily speech, in the music we listen to, in the books we read. His influences are many and far-reaching. A few paragraphs in one Facebook post couldn’t possibly capture all of the ways he’s contributed to our culture and civilization, but suffice it to say, his mark on us is significant.
Why is his legacy such an enduring one? There are many answers to that, perhaps beginning with the simple fact so many of his plays and poems have survived the centuries intact. But the larger answer lies in Shakespeare himself, in the way he was able to understand the best and worst of people and to translate it in such a way others, even others living 400 years in the future, could find themselves in some part of it.
You see, there is a kind of magic in Shakespeare. His mastery of language is part of it. His colorful characters and engaging storytelling are part of it, too. But the true magic of Shakespeare lies in his timelessness. At some point within his plays, he ceases being Shakespeare and instead becomes the beat of a human heart. His voice becomes our own, echoing the sorrow and joy we all are bound to feel as part of the human species, uniting us across the reaches of time and in spite of differences of nationality, race, and religion.
In a few words, Shakespeare makes us better, and because our hearts beat in time to his, our sorrow and joy becomes timeless, too.
Day 1 attachment: Shakespeare is Everywhere by Christopher Gaze
Why so Passionate About Shakespeare?
and cadence, NOT TO
Invention of words:
“Invents words” picture
Influence on Art:
Mumford and Sons Sigh No More
Sigh No More
Song found in Much Ado About Nothing
Act 2, Scene 3
Balthasar / Don Pedro’s man
Much Ado About Nothing (Act 5 Scene 2)
Serve god, love me, and mend.
Benedict says this to Beatrice. At the time, she is very upset about a wrong that was done to her cousin, and she’s persuaded Benedict to challenge his friend, xxx, to a duel. Benedict’s advice is sage. He counsels Beatrice to look beyond the situation to a higher or larger picture, to focus on love and concentrate on cultivating her individual relationships, and to allow time to heal the wounds.
Influence on other artists:
33 Days of Shakespeare
What is 33 Days of Shakespeare? A 33-day celebration of all things Shakespeare!
Why am I celebrating Shakespeare? Because I love him! Also, a First Folio is on display for 33 days in the town I live in! This has never happened before, and I’m excited!
Why am I celebrating Shakespeare with you here, on the Facebook page for The Burning Moon series? Because I know you love Shakespeare, too! And because Shakespeare and his plays are important to my books. In fact, each book in my series is in some way inspired by one of Shakespeare’s plays, so this is the perfect place to celebrate him!
Stay tuned for more - daily quotes, Shakespeare-related topics, and maybe even a giveaway or two - and let’s celebrate Shakespeare together!
Why so Passionate About Shakespeare? Today, I take an introspective look into why Shakespeare matters to me.
Hello, and thanks for joining me on Day 2 of 33 Days of Shakespeare. For more information on 33 Days of Shakespeare, visit me on my Facebook page, linked below! For more literary vlogs, you can also follow my We Love Lit series on youtube.
And now, a story about a girl and her Shakespeare.
Once there was a girl who lived in a small town somewhere in the country. I don’t know the first time she heard the name of Shakespeare, but surely it must have been before her Freshman year of High School, when the students in her class read Romeo and Juliet. By then her interest in the poet and playwright may have been piqued. Not passionately so. Not like later, but slowly and surely, “like a school-boy, with his satchel And
shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to
shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school” the girl was led down the pathway of Shakespearean seduction.
You see, there’s something for everyone in Shakespeare. And there’s a reason they teach Romeo and Juliet in High School. They teach young people that play because it’s a play about young people, foolish and headstrong and angsty and falling in love, and fighting with other kids and feeling misunderstood by their parents, wanting to make a better life somehow, wanting to take control of destiny, wanting to find that one other person who will accept you for who you are, regardless of where you came from or who your family is… and if you want to hook a kid on Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet is the thing most likely to do it.
About the same time the girl read Romeo and Juliet, her school was visited by a troupe of traveling actors. She was mesmerized by their stories, and she learned something she would never forget from one of them, a useful, simple tool to help her navigate Elizabethan language. She learned to let the language breathe, to break free of the constraints of the structure of the verse on the page and to soar with the words instead.
Later, she would come to better understand and appreciate the precise groupings of stressed and unstressed syllables that make up iambic pentameter. To marvel at the genius of a man who could give voice to utterances of sublime and terrible beauty while weaving tales of frivolity and woe … at the same time attending so assiduously to the most basic sound and cadence, NOT TO MENTION doing it frequently and successfully in the space of so few years. Still, extrapolating meaning from the poetry wasn’t easy for the girl at first, and the tool the actor gave her, the one, simple key to unlocking a treasure of inestimable worth… was to forget about the verse - at least for a time - to ignore the pause at the end of each line and use the punctuation instead to guide her, to throw away archaic words or references, if needed, so the glimmering soul of the story could be unfettered and observed.
The next step in the girl’s seduction came when her class undertook the study of Macbeth. Armed with the tool the actor gave her, she stood on the moor with the thane, he still heaving and bloody from battle, she still innocent and wide-eyed and new. She smelled the fetid stench of the witches as they stirred their foul pot and fated the scot to his doom. It wasn’t merely Macbeth who was magicked, for the girl was magicked, also.
Macbeth is a bloody play… but it, more than Romeo and Juliet, made her understand and appreciate the depths of Shakespeare’s prowess. Here was madness, mayhem and murder, but more importantly, as the girl witnessed Macbeth’s ascent to power, she began to find herself empowered, too. The play was like a puzzle, and she learned that she was good at it. She fit together the pieces, and it led to a cathartic moment, a moment that would change everything, a moment when she knew.
Shakespeare is a lifelong passion, not merely a casual fling.
The revelation put into motion a series of life-altering actions. A course of study was decided upon, one built on a foundation of the love of words, gained at least in part, if not in parcel, as a result of her love of Shakespeare.
She went to university. She traveled and grew. She became a kind of detective, searching for the identity of the miraculous, gifted creature who could render humanity with such brutality and grace. She visited the reported place of his birth, and the reported place of his burial. In London, she stood on the southern bank of the Thames, in a spot very near where, long ago, his Globe was built and destroyed, where centuries later it stands again as a testament to the abiding legacy of his work. She looked for him down those centuries, staring into the void of 400 years, wondering at his greatness, marveling at the humbleness of his beginnings. She acquainted herself with the theories and myths that surround him, longing for a better understanding not only of his works, but of him, of the thing that could make him possible, of the thing that could make him still relevant, of the thing that could so enraptured her.
She didn’t necessarily find him, but like all great love affairs of a long and lasting nature, her devotion to Shakespeare deepened. It became a part of her in a way she could never have imagined, reading Romeo and Juliet for the first time as a young girl in a small town somewhere in the country. It inspired her to explore, not only the shores of foreign countries, but the boundaries of her ability. And when the time came, she added her voice to the song of the making of something. She sings because she can, and because part of the lesson she learned from that man she still seeks to discover is that despite the sound and fury, in spite of the hurlyburly… she matters.
Shakespeare said all the World’s a Stage, and we are merely players… but sometimes, when the breeze is just so and the sun shines from just such an angle - we’re poets and playwrights, too.
He knew that, but could he have known the permanent mark he would leave on us? Could he have foreseen the hundreds of millions of times he’d make us laugh or shed a tear or gasp in excitement and horror? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I’m filled with gratitude he strutted and fretted his hour upon this stage, and that, as Prospero did for Miranda, he wove his charms into the fabric of our lives. In giving us his words, he imparted us with a better understanding of who we are as people. And somehow, he’s made us want to be more than our baser parts, to reach for something ephemeral beyond the stage, where the ravages of time can’t touch us, where the collective hope and love and sorrow of our individual lives collide and make us, together, immortal.