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I have been contemplating Shakespeare’s 65th sonnet this weekend:
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o’ersways their power, How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, Whose action is no stronger than a flower? O how shall summer’s honey breath hold out Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days, When rocks impregnable are not so stout, Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays? O fearful meditation! Where, alack, Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid? Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? O none, unless this miracle have might, That in black ink my love may still shine bright. William Shakespeare, Sonnet 65
A year ago today, I was sitting beside my father in the last days of his life. Three days later, it was my beloved cousin and friend Helen whose hand I was holding as she, too, fell prey to time and mortality.
Saying my final farewells to them both in the space of five days was certainly a “wrackful siege of batt’ring days”. I wrote poetry and reflections to both express and process my thoughts and feelings. I wanted people to know how I felt. I wanted people to understand who both these jewels were and why they would always matter, despite their having been being reclaimed from this life.
I learned more about grief, and I learned more about letting go. I had no choice, because there is no human hand or will strong enough to hold back the relentless march of time and mortality.
This sonnet expresses a reality of life: nothing can withstand the relentless power of time. Erosion, degradation, and decay overwhelm not only the frail, but also the mighty. True, rocks and brass may outlast flowers and flesh, but they too will yield eventually.
It is a poem of contemplation and resignation, but also one of defiance: time may be relentless, and there may be no way to “hold his swift foot back”, but one who is immortalised or memorialised in ink lives on, albeit in a different way. We can continue to remember and honour them, and to express our love for them. Our memories and mementos remain long after those who have fallen prey to time and mortality.
In Shakespeare’s time, they had fewer options for immortalising those who passed away than we do. They had eulogies and poetry – the black ink in which “my love may still shine bright”. They could create drawings and paintings. Now, in addition to those, we have photographs, video, and voice recordings.
Poetry and eulogies still touch our souls just as powerfully, though— whether written in the 21st century or the 16th, our written tributes and reflections endure and move us still.
There are times when each of us needs to tell someone to go away. Adding a Shakespearean flavour to it lends both style and emphasis to any ejection of a bothersome person.
Begone is the base level entreaty for someone to leave. To say “Fellow, begone!” is the equivalent of “Okay mate, out you go…” today. If not addressing someone who is actually a fellow, you can use any other form of address, or simply say “Begone!” with an imperative tone. A flick of the hand toward the door could add a nice dramatic touch.
Get thee gone! adds a touch of urgency. It’s more like saying “Go, quickly!” or “Get out now!” This is used forty times throughout Shakespeare’s plays, usually when there is a sense of timeliness or hurry about the leaving. It can also suggest impatience or frustration with the person to whom the command is addressed.
Get thee hence! is equivalent to “Get out of here!” or “Get away from here!” It often seems stronger and more urgent than begone! or get thee gone!
It is certainly expressive and delivers a satisfying sense of Shakespearean drama to your demand to be left alone. Of course, if they don’t go when you tell them to, you can always try mixing it up a little just as Imogene did in Cymbeline: “O, get thee from my sight… Dangerous fellow, hence!”
Aroint thee! Is stronger again because of its implied disrespect for the recipient of the command.It really just means ‘go away’ or ‘begone’, but at the same time indicates that the speaker holds higher status or demands more respect than those to whom they are speaking. It also has supernatural or spiritual connotations, as it was commonly used to eject witches from one’s presence.
Avaunt takes telling someone to get lost to another level, as it carries even greater spiritual or superstitious weight. This is the word one would use for commanding demons or any other evil presence to leave. When directed at people rather than the supernatural, it carries connotations of derision, hatred, or fear; that the speaker seeks to protect themselves from those to whom they speak is understood from this choice of word.
It is important to note that a great deal of suspicion toward witches existed at the time at which both plays were written and performed, and at both points in time in which each play was set. Therefore, Shakespeare’s use of injunctions such as aroint thee and avaunt is a clear indication that the characters on the receiving end are either held in contempt and/or malevolent.
A longer, more detailed exploration of each of these terms is available at Shakespeare Nerd.
Shakespearean Ways To Tell Someone To Go Away.Tweet
#Shakespeare #words #communication
Now really is the winter of my discontent.
I know I’m misquoting – in Richard III’s famous soliloquy, Richard continues the line to say that the winter of the Plantagenets’ discontent is made glorious by the success of the Yorks in succeeding to the English throne and achieving prosperity for England. The civil conflicts experienced in the Wars of the Roses are over, and the turmoil of decades of striving for supremacy has subsided into feasting and celebration. Richard amd his family are in a pretty good place.
I, on the other hand, am not. I’m exhausted, I’m not sleeping, my pain levels are skyrocketing… and the hits just keep coming.
Many of the pressures and expectations are beyond my control, and because it doesn’t look as though things are going to back off anytime soon, I find myself having to give up something I love doing.
Consequently, I’ve made a really hard but necessary decision: I’ve decided to put my Book Squirrel in his nest and let him hibernate for a while. I will put off making a permanent decision about the until the end of the year, when I hope to be able to get some rest and some perspective.
I have spent five and a half years building up that particular blog, dedicated to Indie books and Indie authors, and working hard to develop a following. Now, it has all just stopped.
It hurts. It feels unfair.
Even so, giving the squirrel a rest is my own choice.
I am discontented, without a doubt.
Contrary to apparent popular perceptions, I can’t actually do everything, and I don’t have unlimited time or energy. Something has to give or else I’m going to break, and although it makes me incredibly sad, right now it’s one less thing for me to think about and feel guilty about neglecting.
I am calling it a hibernation for Book Squirrel.
Interestingly, the word hibernation comes from the Latin word hibernationem, which referred to the Roman army’s practice of passing the winter in a specific location or quarters. Interestingly, it was a military word long before it became a zoological one.
It was not until the 1660s that various plants and insects’ different ways of slowing down or suspension of growth during the winter months was called hibernation. Think of a naked deciduous tree, having cast off its leaves in autumn, or a bulb waiting underground for spring, when it would burst forth in furious growth and then bloom to show that winter had come to an end. It was later still— in the 1780s— that the term was used to refer to the way some animals go dormant or sleep through winter, which is the sense in which we most frequently use the word now.
It seems fitting, then, to respond to a winter of discontent with a squirrel’s hibernation.
I do plan to keep blogging here and on Shakespeare Nerd, so those of you who never followed Book Squirrel’s blog dedicated to Indie books and Indie authors will probably not perceive much difference.
To those of you who have come to love the Squirrel and his bookish enthusiasm: I’m sorry. I tried.
To my beloved Book Squirrel: I really am sorry. I’ll miss you. Bye for now.
Yesterday I read a book that featured some excellent characters and a most intriguing plot. One of the reasons the story worked so well was because, in a wicked twist revealed toward the end of the book, one of those characters who had appeared throughout the story as an heroic figure turned out to be both an antihero and an antagonist, albeit unwillingly.
An antihero is a character who appears to be a champion of the cause but lacks the usual heroic qualities one might expect, such as bravery or honesty. An antagonist works against the hero or protagonist and their efforts to resolve the conflicts and complications of the plot.
Interestingly, antihero and antagonist both have roots in the same word element: anti.
To be anti-something is to oppose it in belief, thought and/or action.
The prefix anti- is very old, dating back to Ancient Greek and, even before that, Sanskrit and Proto-Indo-European. It means against, opposed to, or opposite of. It can also mean in front of or before.
From the Greek, it made its way into Latin, and thence into Italian, Spanish, English and French. That makes it a prefix that is very widely understood around the world, and one that is attached to many, many words to add a sense of opposition or contrast.
Thus, although anti-masker is a quite recent term and antichrist is a designation as old as the Gospel itself, we understand both equally well because of the simple clarity and strength of the anti- prefix.
Because I have both a very dodgy spine and fibromyalgia, I frequently find myself overwhelmed by pain and fatigue. People can find things such as motion, loud noise, emotion or anxiety overwhelming.
Overwhelm is an old word with even older roots: it evolved from Old English, and from Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European before that. The original Middle English sense of the word was quite physical, but it soon became less literal in its application.
In the mid-14th century, the word overwhelmen meant to turn upside down, overthrow, or knock over. This word was derived from the Middle English word whelmen, meaning to turn upside down“, which is the origin of the word whelm, meaning submerge or engulf.
Whelm was a Middle English blend of whelve and helm, which had evolved from the Old English words gehwelfan, meaning bend over and helmian meaning cover.
Overwhem had come to mean to submerge completely by the early 15th century, which made whelm rather redundant. It is evocative of a boat being thrown about and overcome by waves, or a person at the mercy of a current, waves or tide of a body of water.
By the 1520s, overwhelm had gained another sense: to cause complete ruin or devastation. Thus, one could be overwhelmed by a storm or by debt, rather than just by liquid.
Underwhelm is a relative newcomer to the party: it was not recorded until the mid-20th century as a somewhat derisory play on overwhelm. To underwhelm is to fail to gain approval or favour, while be underwhelmed by something or someone is to be less than impressed.
#words #etymology #language
One of the biggest obstacles for people who have not previously watch or read Shakespeare is a perception that the language is hard to understand. While there are definitely some words that are unfamiliar because they are no longer used, the most commonly perceived challenge is understanding thee and thou, art and wert, and the like.
Before I ask my students to read or listen to Shakespeare, I teach them the basics of Early Modern English and what all those old-fashioned words mean. I give them a translation guide, and get them to practise speaking and writing basic sentences before moving on to the most fun lesson of the year: Shakespearean Insults!
Once they have played with the language, they are far more receptive to it in a film or written text.
Like anything in life, the path ahead is smoothed by breaking down barriers and removing obstacles.
This infographic is designed to present the basics of Early Modern English simply and directly, to serve as a memory aide and a translation guide as needed.
Understanding Shakespeare’s EnglishTweet
#Shakespeare #English #infographic
This morning I made a to-do list in addition to the one I live by from day to day. The intent of this list is inherent in its title: When the Hurly-Burly’s Done
That is a quote from the opening scene of Macbeth, where the Wyrd Sisters chant in the midst of thunder and lightning:
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.
That will be ere the set of sun.
In the context of war, treachery, the death of a king and the consequent struggles of a nation, it means they will get together again when the mayhem is over. Given their manipulation of Macbeth himself, it’s mayhem they are actively involved and interested in.
While I am not in any way playing with anyone’s life or ambitions, nor the future of the country, there is plenty of hurly-burly in my life at this point in time .
Hurly-burly or hurlyburly is a word from the early 1500s which means commotion or tumult, which grew out of the phrase hurling and burling which was used as early as the 1300s. Hurling time was the name applied by chroniclers of the time to the period of tumult and commotion around the Peasants’ Revolt against the young Richard II, led by Wat Tyler in 1381.
It is a wonderfully expressive word that is quite evocative of the chaos and tumult of its meaning, particularly when delivered with a Scottish accent as it might well be spoken in Macbeth.
Juggling a show, a job, a couple of blogs and a personal life takes some coordination and requires self-care as well as caring for the needs of those around me. It’s busy and demanding, and it definitely feels like hurly-burly to me. Consequently, there are some things that will simply have to wait until after the hurly-burly’s done. The new list should help me ensure they aren’t forgotten.
William Shakespeare, Macbeth
The weekend just gone was super busy but highly rewarding: Camperdown Theatre Company returned to the stage after the enforced shut downs and restrictions of Covid, and launched its 2021 season of Mystery At Shady Acres. It’s a fun whodunnit show with plenty of audience interaction as guests try to solve the mystery presented in the first act.
It was wonderful to be back in the theatre with an audience, and to see the hard work of the past few months come to fruition. Even better was the enthusiasm of the audience: tickets sold out early, people arrived with excitement on their faces, and there was a buzz of anticipation in the theatre as the time drew near for the show to start.
The audiences on both Friday and Saturday nights were very responsive and enthusiastic in their applause. Many made very positive comments after the show, and the actors and directors finished the night feeling very positive and enormously encouraged as a result.
Applause is a noun that came into English in the early 1400s from the Latin word applausus, which means commendation or praise.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, English folk used the word applausible to refer to anything worthy of praise or applause. That word fell out of favour, though, and now we might use the term praiseworthy or commendable instead.
Within a century of applause entering the English language, applaud appeared as its verb form, meaning to express approval or to praise. This came from the Latin verb applaudere, meaning to clap the hands inaffirmation or agreement, to approve by clapping hands. This word was a combination of ad (to) and plaudere (to clap).
The use of applaud to mean clap one’s hands dates back to the 1590s; which shows that they were using the word to refer to giving praise or commendations in general well before they were using it so literally.
This also gave English speakers the word plaudit, which can mean a round of applause, but it can also mean any other expression of approval or praise, whether clapping one’s hands is involved or not. they were using the word before that to refer to giving praise or commendations in general before that.
The power of applause should not be underestimated: nothing stimulates a performer more directly than acknowledgement and praise of their work.
As we head into another busy week and another weekend of performances, I plan to encourage the cast and crew with the positive comments made by members of last week’s audiences.
When each show is done, we will continue to be thankful as the audiences clap their hands and praise us however they will. We at CTC will welcome their applause and their plaudits for as long as they will give continue to applaud.
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been an unwilling host to an enormous case of impostor syndrome.
This post is not a plea for reassurance or confidence.
Nor is it an accusation against anyone else.
Rather, it is an honest, soul-wrenching confession of someone who doesn’t want to be a fake, but at times desperately fears she might be.
I may well be a poet and author, but I haven’t managed to write much at all in the past few months. I have a collection of poems edited and ready for publication, and I can’t quite seem to manage that next step. Part of that is being extraordinarily busy — the other part is fear that it won’t be welcomed or appreciated by readers.
The play I have been co-directing for Camperdown Theatre Company has been in full swing of rehearsals, set design and construction, venue preparation and various other elements of production and promotion.
My co-director is sensational, and the cast, crew and set are all excellent. My doubts keep telling me that they would all have done just as fine a job without me.
I have a three-quarters-written blog post that I have been working on for a couple of weeks now I know what I want to say, I just haven’t had time to write it. This has been a source of both frustration and disappointment, particularly given that it involves two of my favourite things: words and Shakespeare!
A good proportion of the demands on my time over recent weeks has come from a considerable increase in my teaching load, which arose without warning and with some urgency: unexpected events meant that the school needed people to step up, so I did. That my boss asked me to do it demonstrated confidence in my ability and professionalism. I know I am a good teacher, but I’m not feeling that way at the moment. I have been so stressed and stupidly exhausted lately that I feel like I am continually not quite keeping up.
All of this combines to play on my insecurities and doubts about myself.
Last week I hit a real low— I knew it was happening, I could recognise it for what it was and analyse it as it was happening, but I could neither stop it nor escape it. And the barbs came thick and fast:
You’re a fake.
Give up now – nobody will even notice. Your poetry sucks anyway. Nobody would miss you if you didn’t show up. As if anyone actually wants to be with you.
You’re a terrible friend.
All you do is hurt people.
You’re so selfish – thinking about your own feelings instead of what others need.
You’re useless.Do you even know what you’re doing?
Maybe that student is right: you’re a terrible teacher and a horrible person.
Pathetic, feeling sorry for yourself like this. Who do you think you’re kidding?
A day as lousy as this is exactly what you you had coming.
It has been quite awful. The emotions that rage within me at these times are raw and powerful, but they are also subtle and stealthy in the ways that they lurk in the dark corners, preying subtly on every raw nerve ending and every perceived failure. The tears have often been close to the surface, and have been quickly blinked back each time they threaten to overflow. The sense of powerlessness has been overwhelming.
On one level, I know those accusations are not true but, at the same time, it honestly feels as though they are. The more my brain says those things, the more believable they become.
I also know from previous experience that it won’t last. It may come and go, but it’s not permanent.
That doesn’t make getting through it any easier, though.
Because … what if it *is* true?
That’s the fear that keeps me from confessing how I feel until afterwards. Even if I told someone, any reassurance they gave me would be met with the doubt that they might just be saying it for my benefit. I would continue to doubt the legitimacy of any encouragement they might give me. So, I just hold on and wait for it to pass. So how do I weather this kind of storm?
I have got through it with the support and encouragement of a few key people who remind me that I am valued, loved and wanted.
They have helped me in small ways to do what I needed to do, often without realising they were doing that. None of them knew the truth of how I have been feeling.
Support from a colleague helped me walk into the next classroom.
A message from a family member asking hopefully if I was leaving work and coming home soon reassured me that I was missed, and would be welcomed when I got there.
A little kiss on my forehead and ‘I love you’ from my niece reminded me that I didn’t have to prove anything to her.
The sensitive empathy of my dog demonstrated, like she has done so many other times, that love is sometimes as unconditional as it should be.
A kind word of appreciation from a couple of different cast members made me feel valued, despite my doubts.
Once again, all those things demonstrated that I don’t need to be able to control the storm. I just need to be able to know where I can find shelter.
Author’s Note: the fact that I have posted this means that I have started to come out the other side of this negativity. I’m okay.
A semicolon provides a pause in a sentence that is longer than a comma but shorter than a full stop.
There are a number of ways in which one can use a semicolon to good effect; they are very versatile little punctuation marks.
A semicolon can be used to extend a sentence using two closely related ideas without using a conjunction. Therefore, a semicolon works differently than a colon does: they are not interchangeable. Examples:
A semicolon can also be used to create a complex list in which each entry is accompanied by additional information before the list continues. Examples:
How To Use A SemicolonTweet