Oh calm down all those who know that I’m single and are suddenly severely worried you’ve missed something. No need for panicking. This love has been around for quite some time, and I’m not quite sure why I haven’t chosen to write about him before….or well not in great depth. Sure I’ve had a post or two where I’ve throw in his name, but it’s time he earned his own post. I’m talking about none other than my wonderful amazing and utterly lovable William Shakespeare.
I have a literature professor who often refers to Emily Dickinson as solely Emily because he adores her work so much, so don’t take it as too much of an offense if I do the same for my darling Will.
Will and I were first formally introduced when I was in second grade. I had no idea how much I’d come to adore him, although I remember being interested at the time by the comical spectacle of Much Ado About Nothing. We met again in fifth grade when my school gifted and talented section put on Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But nothing could prepare me for the lifelong romance that would ensue after my first encounter with an actual text.
At fourteen I was able to travel to London for the second time in my short life. I remembered before liking it, but it was December and something about Christmas magic in the air made it all the more enchanting. And after visiting the Tower of London, some interest caught hold of me and refused to let go. And between the beauty and the history and the enchantment I found myself surrounded in, I became determined to learn more of the mysterious stories which governed this mystical land. Thus, I began reading on Richard III.
Now, besides Sir Thomas More, the most well-known account of what happened to this enigmatic king falls into the hands of my brilliant Will himself. With my obsession in mind and free-time on my hands during Christmas break, I decided to pursue the play itself to discover more. And though William makes a poor historian, he’s a genius playwright.
Many might scoff at the thought of a fourteen year old choosing to read a history play as her first Shakespeare, on her break no less. But the moment I began I knew I couldn’t stop. “Now is the winter of our discontent–” the words drew me in, created images of monstrous kings, and murderers, and innocent princes, and ghosts, and battles, and the little traditionally romantic (literary term, not in the general sense…trust me, it’s not a super romantic play), found herself engulfed in something she had trouble understanding, but nonetheless enjoyed.
Richard III was my first. And it remains a long standing favorite in the way I believe many first encounters do. It has something nostalgic about it, a little hint of the future years of joy and tears and marvel to come. I checked out movie versions, watched them multiple times, even with commentary on a few times. It wasn’t altogether surprising I wrote my senior high school thesis on the play, exploring the propaganda affects it had on historical readers and the assumptions it still causes today.
Shakespeare plays started becoming my main Christmas gift. Our festival in my local hometown does two a year during the summer, and my parents consistently would promise we could go. I began watching as many different productions as I could, and soon had set one of my first bucket-list goals of seeing all of the Shakespeare plays on a stage before my death. Thus far, I believe I’m about a quarter of the way through. And each summer I’d sit beneath the stars and greedily watch yet another of my beloved Will’s plays, and dream, and imagine the way any young person in love will.
College welcomed me to a class featuring my idol, devouring more than ten plays in the course of a semester, watching our theater company put on the witty and adored Twelfth Night. And I continued to realize that I had thoroughly and completely besworn myself to my Will, that each day he offered further enchantment, more and more material to adore and swoon over.
My final paper played an imitation game with his style, attempted to mimic the well loved hyperboles and phrases, earned a lovely comment from my professor on my talents at sounding Elizabethan. But that was no surprise considering how much I spent time with my Will, that my words might begin to sound a bit like his.
I was sorrowful as I ended the course, even more so on realizing I had to return my now much revered textbook to the renter. But to be sure my romance does not end even as this small part of life has. That is the joy of loving a man on a page, that he never leaves you, that the love is undying. Isn’t that indeed what he writes in his most famous sonnet 18:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
And so as his sonnet lives, the love of this great man lives on with it, bits of affection and kindness and genius all tucked within the lines for me to discover each and every time I delve into the sonnets or the plays or any bit of this man’s beautiful work.
But in all seriousness I will say this, I admire greatly the genius of Shakespeare. Though I hope I don’t come off quite as obsessed as I may have jokingly suggested above, he is probably one of the greatest founders of my writing inspiration. My last finished book picked little bits of sonnet, and suggestions of King Lear, and a touch of thought on justice from Merchant of Venice, and my latest gathers a sense of destiny and fate from Macbeth. And though I may not really love the man romantically (yes let out that sigh of relief any who thought they had a crazy woman on their hands), I do love what he does on a page and hope desperately I can emulate the same laughter, tears, and thought from my own works. It’s good to have mentors in works…maybe even to an extent of feeling some sense of love.
Who do you greatly admire? Any obsession confessions anyone feels led to give? What were some early works that inspired you in writing, in life, etc? For any fellow lovers of the bard, do you have a favorite play or sonnet?