How could I have forgotten about the bard? When I was a teenager and first deciphered his words it was like finding the right key to open a door. I felt as a child when we would read passages from the Bible and I was able to figure out the moral.
With Shakespeare, it was not about God or Jesus but about his people and their condition. And with Shakespeare as with the Bible, the words were not so clear. They needed to be decoded. This made sense to me. The human condition could not be written in an equation. It is a bramble, a tangle of intertwined words, creating imagery and recounting emotion. While taking time to decipher these words, I could make connections and actually think. It helped me to put the puzzle of my own thoughts together. My teenage heart was overjoyed. Shakespeare’s poetic insight into human nature made tragedies and flaws into art, making them more bearable, tolerable, even beautiful.
So in this long winter of experiences, I find myself returning more to Shakespeare than the Bible. I know I shouldn’t say this but William was definitely a more skilled writer than Matthew, Mark, Luke or John.
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
As You Like It, Act II Scene VII
Blow, blow thou winter wind,
Though art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! Sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly:
Then, heigh-ho, the holly!
This life is most jolly.
Freeze, freeze thou bitter sky,
That does not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot:
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.