Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day.
It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
Nightly she sings on bond pomegranate tree,
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale.
I love these words from Romeo and Juliet. They’re haunting in their longing–to hold onto a cherished moment for as long as possible, even if it means holding back the dawn. And they’re timeless, not just because they were penned over 400 years go, but because they tap into a primal force–to love and be loved.
I’ve always been a lover of Shakespeare. When other girls were hunting for old costume jewellery or trinkets at rummage sales, I was keenly looking out for any copies of Shakespeare’s plays. They were all different and his range of genre was incredible–he penned tragedies, romances, and even his last, The Tempest, was a fantasy.
Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves; And ye that on the sands with printless foot do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him when he comes back; You demi-puppets that by moonshine do the green sour ringlets make, whereof the ewe not bites; And you whose pastime is to make midnight mushrumps, that rejoice to hear the solemn curfew; By whose aid (Weak masters though ye be) I have bedimmed the noontide sun, called forth the mutinous winds, and ‘twixt the green sea and the azure vault set roaring war; To the dread rattling thunder have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak with his own bolt; The strong-based promontory have I made shake and by the spurs plucked up the pine and cedar; Graves at my command have waked their sleepers, oped, and let ’em forth by my so potent art. But this rough magic I here abjure; and when I have required some heavenly music (which even now I do) to work mine end upon their senses that this airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff, bury it certain fathoms in the earth, and deeper than did ever plummet sound I’ll drown my book.
A master storyteller cajoles, evokes, creates something musical on the page out of nothing. This is why Shakespeare’s works still breathe and inspire for over four hundred years. We are all the richer for it.
And so ’tis time to wish you, dear Bard, a happy birthday!
Please share–what is your favourite lines in Shakespeare? What makes you laugh, cry, shiver and marvel? Drop me a line.