It’s no secret that I love Shakespeare – to read, to watch, to ponder. You can take the girl out of college, but you can’t take the English major out of the girl.
But once upon a time (exactly 29 years ago, now that I think about it), in a land not so far away (actually about a mile from where I am at the moment), I had opportunity to give the words of the Bard some life on stage. Might not be a big deal to some, but as a wide-eyed high school sophomore who was a drama queen in every sense of the phrase, this was huge.
We were having a mini-Shakespeare festival, co-produced by the English and Drama Department (note that I use the term Drama “Department” loosely, since it basically consisted of one staff member who directed the spring musical and any one-off dramatic activities – no classes or anything formal… one of my great regrets about my high school). Each English class was studying a Shakespearean play at the time and the Festival was a tie-in event, featuring scenes from each of the plays being read.
Being low-woman on the greasepaint totem pole (after all, I was a mere sophomore), I didn’t have a huge part… played the delightfully named Mistress Quickly in a scene from Henry IV, Pt. One involving Prince Hal and that rascal Falstaff. The cast all wore t-shirts with a picture of Will S. on the front and our character name on the back. Yeah, I got a lot of wear out of my Mistress Quickly shirt after the performance. rolls eyes
However, the real highlight for me was getting to recite and interpret a sonnet… Number CXVI. Still remember every word to this day. As I studied the words and rehearsed their delivery, something inside me germinated – and my love and affection for the nuances of literature was born. Kinda cool to think about this now, as I sit in a room overflowing with books and books about books.
Sonnet CXVI is a perfect work to celebrate and share on this Valentine’s Eve… and I’ll have you know that save for the accent mark on “fixed” and a check to see where the verse are supposed to break (I may be passionate, but I am admittedly lazy. Counting out iambic pentameter this afternoon didn’t thrill me…) this bad boy was typed from memory.
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-fixèd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring 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.
And don’t worry – this is just here for sheer enjoyment. No essay on your interpretation is required…