By Melanie Page
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
’Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the Judgement that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.
By William Shakespeare
Sonnet 55 (above) could have been written to celebrate William Shakespeare and his deathless contribution to English language and literature. April 23rd is the day he was (probably) born, as well as the day he died. He was just 52 (my own impending age) and had written a collection of plays that are some of the most memorable texts in the English language.
When we were in England a couple of years ago, we had the opportunity to see a performance of ‘Macbeth’ at the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London. It was the highlight of my trip, a magical moment. I was absolutely mesmerised.
We sat on thin cushions, hired for the performance. We sat in the balcony, with a spectacular view of the stage. Each tiny section holds only a handful of seats, just three rows deep. The best word to describe it was ‘intimate’, even though the audience was about 2000 strong. The theatre itself is a work of love. It is a replica, as exact as they can make it, built entirely of wood, just as the real Globe was. To be there was to step into the past.
Literature is, for me, the gift that keeps on giving. It never gets old. There are always new ways of seeing the old stories, always new stories being told, that tell old tales, old truths in new ways. And the best thing is, that, even though I am no Shakespeare, I get to be a part of it, weaving stories out of skeins of words, knitting together tales to warm the human heart.
So Happy Birthday Mr Shakespeare! Thanks for all your wonderful words!