399 Years Ago Today

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare
To digg the dust encloased heare
Blese be the man that spares these stones
And curst be he that moves my bones

Shakespeare’s epitaph

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention

Prologue, Henry V

But my God, how beautiful Shakespeare is, who else is as mysterious as he is; his language and method are like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy.

Vincent van Gogh, letter to Theo van Gogh (July 1880) as translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger

The one Proteus of the fire and the flood.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

Every time I open Hamlet, I am stunned by it hostile virtuosity, its elusiveness and impenetrability. Shakespeare uses language to darken. He mesmerizes by disorienting us.

Camille Paglia, Sexual Persona

A few of the 1,700 words he coined. I like “articulated,” “congreet,” “dispunge” (I’ll need to use that one), “incarnadine,” “mistempered,” “relum’d.”

Anthony Burgess suggested that Shakespeare helped with the 46th Psalm in the King James Version, because the 46th word from the beginning is “shakes” and the 46th word from the end is “spear” – if you don’t count the “selah”s.

Read him and be reminded of the best, deepest, highest, most, liveliest, bitterest that humankind can produce.

Sonnet 49

Against that time (if ever that time come)
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
Whenas thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Called to that audit by advised respects;
Against that time when thou shalt strangely pass,
And scarcely greet me with that sun thine eye,
When love converted from the thing it was
All reasons find of settled gravity:
Against that time do I insconce me here
Within the knowledge of mine own desert,
And this my hand against myself uprear,
To guard the lawful reason on thy part:
To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,
Since why to love I can allege no cause.

Sonnet 117

Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay,
forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do time me day by day,
That I have frequent been with unknown minds,
And given time you own dear-purchased right;
That I have hoisted sail to all the winds
Which should transport me farthest from you sight,
Book both my wilfulness and errors down,
And on just proof surmise accumulate;
Bring me within the level of your frown,
But shoot not at me in you wakened hate:
Since my appeal say I did strive to prove
The constancy and virtue of your love.

Sonnet 129

Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad:
Mad in pursuit and in possession so,
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe,
Before, a joy proposed, behind, a dream.
All this the world well knows yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads me to this hell.

About mutecypher

Old. Bold. Deal with it.
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