Happy Birthday, Bill

Today is the birthdate of the most famous poet of them all. I have spent most of the morning searching the internet for a decent selection of extended passages.

It is slightly woeful. Scattered about I have found snippets and stanza’s, the well trodden lines we are all familiar with, the “to be’s” and the “get thee’s to nunneries”, the “light from yonder window” and “A horse! A horse”, “Eye of newt and toe of frog”. Fine words but all too easily uttered with no thought to the context or probably even their meaning.

Because you see “the play’s the thing” and sure enough the full folio is out there; whole plays for download or online hyperclicking. But in such times as these when a complete works is in your hands for so little; A dog-eared fiver for a crisply printed doorstop. Who would prefer fuzzy, eyewatering glow of words floating on a screen to the bold and unchanging typesetting held in your hands?

But betwixt or between these I have seen little of a different stripe, few collections of speeches and solliloquies, of acts or exchanges. The means, motive and opportunity are all there for someone to collect together extracts longer than four lines but shorter than a scene.

I would do it myself, but cannot bear to. There is nothing to stop you and get you started here are the sonnets and an idea of what i mean. {Exeunt Caspar pursued by a bear.

From Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5 Scene 1. Spoken by Theseus.
I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet’s eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!