Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Slightly Shakespeare

from Sonnet XCVIII

. . . When proud pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,

That heavy Saturn laughed and leapt with him.

Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer's story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew: 
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight . . . . 

---William Shakespeare

Today marks the 400th anniversary since Shakespeare's death.  Historical accounts apparently disagree on the actual date of the English playwright/poet's birth, but April 23 gets the nod most of the time. 

Whatever the case, I always remember Shakespeare on this calendar date.  

It was usually during this month, over my many years of teaching sophomore English that we would begin to study Shakespeare and his historical tragedy Julius Caesar. 

Although the play was considered a tragedy, my students seldom experienced tragic results from studying it. 

   Instead, if they never learned anything else in English class, for most, until their dying day, they'll remember the great fun we had each spring when they created their often hilarious parodies of the famed "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech. 

Even my "class from Hell," which I taught out in the SHS portables probably holds fond memories of William, even though most of them memorized only a couple of lines from that speech:  heck, they got donuts!

And, of course, my classes were hardly unique in coming up with their creative Shakespearean endeavors. 

Throughout the world, wherever Shakespeare is taught, his works can serve as unifiers to all who, as adolescents, remember their individual experiences while studying the bard. 

Shakespeare created and ensured his own legacy while posing question from Julius Caesar:

  How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!

I'd say his works are still alive and kicking 400 years after his death. 

Shakespeare lives on!

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