Tuesday, April 26, 2016

All-Shakespeare Poetry Session to Commemorate the 400th Death Anniversary – Apr 22, 2016



We had eight regular readers and a guest, Joe's son Reuben, who was visiting from USA. The first time we had an all-Shakespeare session was on May 9, 2009 at Talitha's suggestion:

Thommo, Reuben, KumKum, Zakia

 Sonnets and plays were the source of inspiration for readers at this 2016 event to commemorate the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. The Bard is better known in India than in Britain according to a recent survey:

 Zakia, KumKum, Priya

From polyamory and anti-Semitism to the madrigal poetic-musical form and Original Pronunciation, the discussions were open-ended and contemporary. Which demonstrates how relevant Shakespeare continues to be 400 years after his death.

Thommo, Ammu, Shoba

 For a tour of Shakespeare's 400th anniversary being celebrated in Stratford-upon-Avon, consult BBC at

Joe & Gopa


Reuben has provided a video on youtube that records the session for 25 minutes:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcOPHkkqQPw

We missed Talitha, and five other readers who were absent for unavoidable reasons. But here we are at the end, smiling with our guest, Reuben, who took many of the pictures at this session. 



Priya, Thommo, KumKum, Reuben, Ammu, Gopa, Shoba



Present: Shoba, Thommo, KumKum, Joe, Zakia, Priya, Ammu, Gopa
Guest: Reuben Cleetus
Absent: Sunil (away for Masonic Lodge work), Preeti (sick), Pamela (away to Chennai), Kavita (away to estate), Saras (?)

The next readings have been fixed for the following dates:
Fri May 14, 2016 The Narrow Road to the Deep North By Richard Flanagan at Priya's place.
On the same day  we will have a pot-luck lunch to celebrate the 10th anniversary of KRG.

Fri Jun 3, 2016Poetry at CYC.

The annual membership fee of Rs 300 will be collected at the May 14 reading.


1. Zakia
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene 1
Zakia, KumKum, Priya

Caesar has just been murdered after crying out 'Et tu Brute' as he goes down. Brutus invites Antony to speak of his fallen hero:
But speak all good you can devise of Caesar,

And this is the speech Antony delivers which Zakia read out:
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth

Marlon Brando as Mark Antony - O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth

Antony prophesies woe to the 'hand that shed this costly blood.' He says Caesar's spirit will cry out in revenge and engulf Roman society in the 'dogs of war.' To read Shakespeare is to recall quotations from his work on every page.

It is in the next scene that Mark Antony goes before the Roman citizens to make his famous plea:
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

You may view actor Damian Lewis perform the latter speech at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q89MLuLSJgk


2. Shoba
Sonnet 60
Thommo, Ammu, Shoba

This sonnet like many others contemplates the never-ceasing furrows that hasting Time ploughs in a person's life, advancing to maturity and then decay. It is placed aptly at number 60 to signify the minutes in an hour,


Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end

just as sonnet 12 carries the significance of hours:
When I do count the clock that tells the time

The concluding couplet reinforces the message of several other sonnets, including the famous sonnet 18, that the author of these sonnets can rescue the object of his verse from the mortality of Time, because
my verse shall stand
despite his cruel hand.

And how true! For here we are, a group of readers 10,000 km away from Stratford-upon-Avon, celebrating Shakespeare's 400th death anniversary by reading his plays and poems, and rendering that immortality he promised the subjects of his sonnets.

A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 2, Scene 1
The second selection of Shoba was the luscious description by Oberon.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,


The opening lines are ravishing in their beauty. They are sheer poetry and the audience is taken as much by the poetry as the meaning, and the wonderful rhyming of 'eglantine' with 'woodbine'. Shakespeare never seems to need a Muse, so effortlessly can he conjure up visions of a dreamy forest where the fairies sleep.


Eglantine

Woodbine - same as honeysuckle

Readers inquired if this verse could not be sung. Benjamin Britten, the British composer has set it to a melody which you can hear on Youtube:

One of the issues faced by modern readers of the sonnets is the seeming defect of rhyme in several of them. For instance, in sonnet 60 what are we to make of brow-mow? And in Oberon's speech of prove-love? Prof David Crystal resolves the matter in a paper he wrote (he has written much on the subject of pronunciation in Shakespeare's time) where he asserts that in 96 sonnets there are 142 rhyme pairs that clash, so that only about one-third of the sonnets rhyme to the modern ear. His researches make him conclude that that the pronunciation has changed between the Early Modern English of Renaissance times, and Modern English. You may read his paper in pdf format on Sounding Out Shakespeare at

Here is a video on Youtube in which father and son, David and Ben Crystal, demonstrate the Original Pronunciation of the 1600s at the new Globe theatre:

Thommo raised the question of the plays being translated into Malayalam. Joe affirmed that not only had many plays been translated but they had also been performed abroad. In his lecture on the 450th birth anniversary of Shakespeare

Joe stated:
Shakespeare translations exist in all the major Indian languages. In Kerala not only have many plays been translated decades back into Malayalam, but there have been Kathakali dramatisations of King Lear, and of several other plays, by Kalamandalam, some of which have won acclaim abroad, for instance at the Edinburgh Festival.

You can refer to the paper by K.M.K. Pillai, Shakespeare in Malayalam, Indian Literature, Vol. 7, No. 1 (1964), pp. 73-82, published by the Sahitya Akademi. The pdf file is linked here.


3. Ammu
Sonnet 15


The theme as before is the decay that Time accelerates in humans, specifically in the young man who is the object of the early sonnets. Perfection is only held in a moment, and before long decay sets in. The last line bespeaks what love the poet had for the youth:
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

I engraft you new

The poet infuses new life into the youth even as Time is at war to sully his young friend. I engraft you new is the sprightly use of an agricultural metaphor.

Sonnet 16
This sonnet is a follow-on to the previous one and suggests the youth could take more effective action to make war on tyrant Time. Resorting to sexual imagery the poet urges
And many maiden gardens yet unset
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,

Plant early and often

Explicit horticultural imagery is used as a metaphor for the youth planting his seed in maidens (i.e., gardens yet unset) ready to bear his children. And the poet confesses his poor pen cannot bring the youth a second life as beauteous as an heir would bear. And in a paradox he urges
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,

Still, meaning 'always' as usual in Shakespeare. Transfer yourself into your children to have a sure future. Many of the initial sonnets are a plea supposedly advanced by the mother of the youth, who enjoined the poet to urge her son to marry and beget children. One theory is that the first seventeen sonnets were written at the request of William Herbert's mother, the Countess of Pembroke, to speed the marriage of her son. For clarity on the dramatis personae of the sonnets, see

A more scholarly discussion is in a paper titled The Story told by Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Stephanie Hopkins Hughes


4. Thommo
Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 3
Thommo read the entire scene where the loan of three thousand ducats (about $300K in today's terms) is negotiated between Bassanio and Shylock with Antonio as the guarantor, for a pound of his flesh. This leads to the fine satirical speech by Shylock,
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:

Shylock played by Al Pacino in the 20004 film

Joe remarked that this play has sometimes been cited as anti-Semitic for its portrayal of Shylock as an avaricious Jew. Yet it is not so, for Shakespeare gives him fine lines with which to expose the hypocrisy of Christians. And Al Pacino acted the part with great passion in the 2004 film (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379889/ ) to bring out the central lesson: be one Jew or Christian, at bottom we are all human and have the same flaws and live by the same laws:
If you prick us, do we not bleed?

You can also read the article by Roman Jacobson on why Shakespeare’s Shylock is a character for any Jew to celebrate:
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/05/villain-victim-shylock-shakespeare-howard-jacobson

The International Shakespeare Center at Santa Fe has placed online a production of this fervent speech at


Shylock asks in Act 3, Scene 1, and then answers:
If a Jew wrong a Christian,
what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian
wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by
Christian example? Why, revenge. The villany you
teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I
will better the instruction.

You can see the entire film (2h 12m) on youtube at

As Thommo pointed out most of the professions were denied to the Jews in the Middle Ages and they had to live in ghettos; they were not allowed to own property; so they turned to money-lending to earn a living.


5. Gopa
As You Like It Act 5, Scene 3 The Forest
Touchstone hopes to marry Audrey next day, and meeting two pages of the Duke he asks for a song. The result is this delightful ditty which would have been sung on stage in Shakespeare's time. You can hear the song in a tune from those times:

A soprano sings It was a lover and his lass, With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino, to lute accompaniment, with music composed by Thomas Morley, a prominent English composer, around 1600.

It was a lover and his lass, With a hey and a ho and a hey nonino

Touchstone claims the song made no sense, but what a lovely scene it evokes of the springtime! Gopa mentioned the poetic form of the verse may be classed as a madrigal, popular at the time in England, imported from Italy. There is a long history of the madrigal in music which may be consulted online


6. Joe
Sonnet 146
In spite of the difficulty of attributing to any sonnet the notion that it is the personal statement of Shakespeare, there is one that people point to as his testament, the “grave 146th sonnet addressed to the soul of man.” (Caroline Spurgeon, Shakespeare's Imagery, Cambridge University Press, 1935)

It is a profoundly meditative sonnet, not religious, for it nowhere mentions God or the after-life. But it does reflect on the relationship of body and soul. It’s a sonnet of renunciation, perhaps a reminder about death addressed to his mistress, but for this you have to read ‘poor soul’ in the first line as her, rather than himself. Others regard the sonnet as a contemplation on the futility of our lives in the face of ever-present mortality.

Dying for love

The last three lines convey the message that it is the soul within the human that is to be nourished, and that is the path to overcoming death. The cry there's no more dying then is the note of hope on which this sonnet ends: death as a total fulfilment that forbids further recurrence of the joys and travails of life.
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.

The last line has the kind of finality that sonneteers wish for their sonnets, a closing that wraps a lid with a definitive thought, after the back and forth of the line preceding it:
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.

In the second line Fooled by is a conjecture by a scholar, Malone; in the quarto there is a corruption and the words My sinful earth are repeated. About quartos and folios the information provided by the Folger Library (devoted to Shakespeare) in Washington, D.C., is enlightening:

Hamlet, To be, or not to be: Act 3 Sc 1
It is arguably the most famous line in the entire Shakespearean canon and has been performed by some of the finest actors to grace the stage. In performance, the power of the speech in iambic pentameter is even more potent, than the words alone. Most lines have 11 syllables with the last syllable unstressed (feminine ending).

Laurence Olivier in 'To be or not to be'

Hamlet is depressed and thinking about killing himself as a means to end his "sea of troubles." In previous scenes he has said (Act 1, Sc 2):
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!
Or that the Everlasting had not fix'd
His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! O God! God!
How weary, stale, flat and unprofitable,
Seem to me all the uses of this world!

Is death oblivion? Then there’s nothing to be frightened of. But what if it’s not? The thought of after-life gives him pause.

Hamlet is not really speaking of suicide or the choice between life and death. Instead, he is addressing the very issue of existence. Shakespeare has enlarged the question into a metaphysical debate.

Lastly, Joe recited a sonnet he wrote, a death sonnet, in honour of Shakespeare whose 400th death anniversary we were gathered to celebrate. It begins
When death shall beckon me from day to night
Earth-wandering I will crumble into dust,

and ends
I shall encounter darkness as a bride,
Embrace it in my arms while I abide.

There are several nods to Master William Shakespeare in the sonnet's lines. KumKum heard Joe recite it once before and she liked it; she called it Christian in thought which surprised Joe. Gopa said something about 'FB.'


7. Priya
Sonnet 18
Priya read the lovely sonnet 18 which all young men should read to their special person; possibly all women deserve to have this sonnet read to them by people who love them. Here is Tom Duddy's exegesis of the piece from his reading at the Shakespeare 450th Birth Anniversary Festival Symposium on Apr 27, 2014:

SHALL I compare thee to a summer's day?

The structure of this sonnet is 8/6, more common with Shakespeare. No. 18 is the most famous of his sonnets, because it is a sunny piece, metaphorically and literally. The bravura of its opening line
SHALL I compare thee to a summer's day?

takes your breath away. From there the limitations of the summer’s day comparison to the beloved is elaborated line by line for the next seven lines! And then again an ecstatic declamation:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade

The reasons it will not fade are somewhat tendentious but stated grandly, ending with the idea that death won’t come to her. The couplet tells why:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

The poet is boasting that what gives immortality is hiser being embedded in the sonnet as the subject, for the poet's verse will endure beyond his death and her death.

Indeed, he was justified in that supreme confidence, for here we are reciting it some 400 years later, and you can bet it will be recited 1,000 years later too – if humans are still around.

Prof Duddy says the repetition of the word ‘this’ is extraordinary in the last line. It is very telling. Is this a love poem? Sure it is. Prof Duddy quoted the opening of John’s gospel, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God … and the Word was made flesh. It’s the poet’s words that will last.

Sonnet 116
This sonnet is a paean to immortal, never-changing love:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,

The poet exclaims it is an ever-fixèd mark. Priya advanced the opinion that love will not change, but the person loved may change. That would imply there is an innate force called love in a person that can latch on to different persons, perhaps even at the same time. Then it would be called polyamory, a word that came to be used in the US ca. 1992 and means 'having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals, viewed as an alternative to monogamy, esp. in regard to matters of sexual fidelity.' Regardless, the practice has existed since ancient times, at least among males.

That is permissiveness, said Gopa. Joe added as a counterpoint to Sonnet 116, that in modern management jargon there is a paradoxical statement characterising the life of corporations: change is the only constant.

Priya referred to Count Orsino in the Twelfth Night, who is in love with the idea of love, rather than a particular person, and so finds it easy to switch his love from Olivia to the pageboy, Cesario, who is really Viola. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orsino_(Twelfth_Night)


8. KumKum
Sonnet 97
KumKum chose 97, and I repeat here Tom Duddy's commentary from his lecture, referenced above. It is the first Absence Sonnet among the 154 telling how the poet feels when the beloved is not there.
HOW like a winter hath my absence been
And yet this time removed was summer's time,

Pause a moment – the poet is not remarking on her absence, but his. That inversion is striking, is it not? He implies thereby that mentally she was always in his mind, with him, but it was he who was absent from hers. And though it was in sunny summer, the separation made it seem like dreary winter. The summer-winter contrast has to be imagined in the context of English weather.

Then next sonnet in the sequence, No. 98, is also an Absence sonnet, which begins
          From you have I been absent in the spring,

and as in No. 97 the poet compares the absence to winter in the penultimate line:
          Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away,

Helen Vendler in her book, The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets, notes that Keats remembered No. 97 so well that he transmuted it into the ode To Autumn. She cites the contrasting phrases in the sonnet: “The repeated subversion of any pleasure – as teeming and rich yield to widowed wombs and decease, as abundant issue becomes orphans and unfathered fruit, as singing turns to dull cheer – suggests the final power of the imagination over what might be called objective reality.”

Prof Duddy asked why there is a redundancy between widowed wombs and lords’ decease, since the decease of the lord implies a surviving widow. I think this is the emphasis that Shakespeare lays on often, when he restates, or explicates one line or word with another line or word. Take Hamlet's lines quoted above,
O, that this too too solid flesh would melt
Thaw and resolve itself into a dew!

The three words 'melt', thaw', and 'resolve' indicate the same physical action.

The imaginative complexity in this sonnet comes from the poet living through actual summer, yet it appearing to him as winter; and the wanton burden of the prime (=spring, the season that just went by) soon yielding abundant issue in teeming autumn (the season to come). But that imagined fruitfulness of autumn gives him no hope (hope of orphans). After this rigmarole the poet returns to actual time, the summer, but sees the beloved enjoying this pleasant season, but not he. Why? Because,
thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

For Joe lines 12 & 13 carry the pathos of the poem, especially line 12:
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;

And, thou away, the very birds are mute– the Mute Swan

Prof Duddy characterised this as the art that conceals art (ars est celare artem, in Latin, i.e., True art is to conceal art), how effortlessly it seems the poet has conceived the poem so that he gives no evidence of any artifice, although a sonnet by design is a crafted work that must adhere to several rules. “We are not in the presence of poetry but of texture, for the poet has simplified things to the bone,” said Prof Duddy.

As for the birds being mute, he found the opposite is the case in Fort Kochi with koels, that start off the day with their insistent whistling cry, repeated at intervals. Yet you can never spot them, so secretive are they , emblematic of art concealing art. Of course, now his vision is so bad, Prof Duddy would not be able to discern the tree in which the koel sat, forget the koel.

Prospero's Speech – Our revels now are ended. The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1
This speech of Prospero from one of Shakespeare's final plays is often considered a farewell by the dramatist to the stage in London. He retired soon after to Stratford-upon-Avon. You can watch Helen Mirren, the actor, recite this speech at the BAFTA awards in 2014 in a Youtube video (it begins at minute 3.00) :

Shakespeare as Prospero, the magician

Prospero is banishing all the magical spirits that he had conjured to serve him during their exile on the island, and he is giving up his powers. There are tremendous evocative images in this short speech, all clothed in matchless language. What impresses the hearer is total absence of a single hackneyed expression; when Shakespeare elevates he can raise you to the very stratosphere without your being aware.

It ends with a clear-eyed statement, filled with pathos:
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.


Readings


1. Zakia
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene 1
ANTONY
O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,--
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue--
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter'd with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.

2. Shoba
Sonnet 60
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 2, Scene 1
OBERON:
I pray thee, give it me.
I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight;
And there the snake throws her enamell'd skin,
Weed wide enough to wrap a fairy in:
And with the juice of this I'll streak her eyes,
And make her full of hateful fantasies.
Take thou some of it, and seek through this grove:
A sweet Athenian lady is in love
With a disdainful youth: anoint his eyes;
But do it when the next thing he espies
May be the lady: thou shalt know the man
By the Athenian garments he hath on.
Effect it with some care, that he may prove
More fond on her than she upon her love:
And look thou meet me ere the first cock crow.

3. Ammu
Sonnet 15
When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheerèd and cheque'd even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

Sonnet 16
But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessèd than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens yet unset
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair,
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

4. Thommo
Merchant of Venice Act 1, Scene 3
SCENE III. Venice. A public place.

Enter BASSANIO and SHYLOCK
SHYLOCK
Three thousand ducats; well.
BASSANIO
Ay, sir, for three months.
SHYLOCK
For three months; well.
BASSANIO
For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall be bound.
SHYLOCK
Antonio shall become bound; well.
BASSANIO
May you stead me? will you pleasure me? shall I
know your answer?
SHYLOCK
Three thousand ducats for three months and Antonio bound.
BASSANIO
Your answer to that.
SHYLOCK
Antonio is a good man.
BASSANIO
Have you heard any imputation to the contrary?
SHYLOCK
Oh, no, no, no, no: my meaning in saying he is a
good man is to have you understand me that he is
sufficient. Yet his means are in supposition: he
hath an argosy bound to Tripolis, another to the
Indies; I understand moreover, upon the Rialto, he
hath a third at Mexico, a fourth for England, and
other ventures he hath, squandered abroad. But ships
are but boards, sailors but men: there be land-rats
and water-rats, water-thieves and land-thieves, I
mean pirates, and then there is the peril of waters,
winds and rocks. The man is, notwithstanding,
sufficient. Three thousand ducats; I think I may
take his bond.
BASSANIO
Be assured you may.
SHYLOCK
I will be assured I may; and, that I may be assured,
I will bethink me. May I speak with Antonio?
BASSANIO
If it please you to dine with us.
SHYLOCK
Yes, to smell pork; to eat of the habitation which
your prophet the Nazarite conjured the devil into. I
will buy with you, sell with you, talk with you,
walk with you, and so following, but I will not eat
with you, drink with you, nor pray with you. What
news on the Rialto? Who is he comes here?
Enter ANTONIO

BASSANIO
This is Signior Antonio.
SHYLOCK
[Aside] How like a fawning publican he looks!
I hate him for he is a Christian,
But more for that in low simplicity
He lends out money gratis and brings down
The rate of usance here with us in Venice.
If I can catch him once upon the hip,
I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him.
He hates our sacred nation, and he rails,
Even there where merchants most do congregate,
On me, my bargains and my well-won thrift,
Which he calls interest. Cursed be my tribe,
If I forgive him!
BASSANIO
Shylock, do you hear?
SHYLOCK
I am debating of my present store,
And, by the near guess of my memory,
I cannot instantly raise up the gross
Of full three thousand ducats. What of that?
Tubal, a wealthy Hebrew of my tribe,
Will furnish me. But soft! how many months
Do you desire?
To ANTONIO

Rest you fair, good signior;
Your worship was the last man in our mouths.
ANTONIO
Shylock, although I neither lend nor borrow
By taking nor by giving of excess,
Yet, to supply the ripe wants of my friend,
I'll break a custom. Is he yet possess'd
How much ye would?
SHYLOCK
Ay, ay, three thousand ducats.
ANTONIO
And for three months.
SHYLOCK
I had forgot; three months; you told me so.
Well then, your bond; and let me see; but hear you;
Methought you said you neither lend nor borrow
Upon advantage.
ANTONIO
I do never use it.
SHYLOCK
When Jacob grazed his uncle Laban's sheep--
This Jacob from our holy Abram was,
As his wise mother wrought in his behalf,
The third possessor; ay, he was the third--
ANTONIO
And what of him? did he take interest?
SHYLOCK
No, not take interest, not, as you would say,
Directly interest: mark what Jacob did.
When Laban and himself were compromised
That all the eanlings which were streak'd and pied
Should fall as Jacob's hire, the ewes, being rank,
In the end of autumn turned to the rams,
And, when the work of generation was
Between these woolly breeders in the act,
The skilful shepherd peel'd me certain wands,
And, in the doing of the deed of kind,
He stuck them up before the fulsome ewes,
Who then conceiving did in eaning time
Fall parti-colour'd lambs, and those were Jacob's.
This was a way to thrive, and he was blest:
And thrift is blessing, if men steal it not.
ANTONIO
This was a venture, sir, that Jacob served for;
A thing not in his power to bring to pass,
But sway'd and fashion'd by the hand of heaven.
Was this inserted to make interest good?
Or is your gold and silver ewes and rams?
SHYLOCK
I cannot tell; I make it breed as fast:
But note me, signior.
ANTONIO
Mark you this, Bassanio,
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!
SHYLOCK
Three thousand ducats; 'tis a good round sum.
Three months from twelve; then, let me see; the rate--
ANTONIO
Well, Shylock, shall we be beholding to you?
SHYLOCK
Signior Antonio, many a time and oft
In the Rialto you have rated me
About my moneys and my usances:
Still have I borne it with a patient shrug,
For sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.
You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog,
And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine,
And all for use of that which is mine own.
Well then, it now appears you need my help:
Go to, then; you come to me, and you say
'Shylock, we would have moneys:' you say so;
You, that did void your rheum upon my beard
And foot me as you spurn a stranger cur
Over your threshold: moneys is your suit
What should I say to you? Should I not say
'Hath a dog money? is it possible
A cur can lend three thousand ducats?' Or
Shall I bend low and in a bondman's key,
With bated breath and whispering humbleness, Say this;
'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last;
You spurn'd me such a day; another time
You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
I'll lend you thus much moneys'?
ANTONIO
I am as like to call thee so again,
To spit on thee again, to spurn thee too.
If thou wilt lend this money, lend it not
As to thy friends; for when did friendship take
A breed for barren metal of his friend?
But lend it rather to thine enemy,
Who, if he break, thou mayst with better face
Exact the penalty.
SHYLOCK
Why, look you, how you storm!
I would be friends with you and have your love,
Forget the shames that you have stain'd me with,
Supply your present wants and take no doit
Of usance for my moneys, and you'll not hear me:
This is kind I offer.
BASSANIO
This were kindness.
SHYLOCK
This kindness will I show.
Go with me to a notary, seal me there
Your single bond; and, in a merry sport,
If you repay me not on such a day,
In such a place, such sum or sums as are
Express'd in the condition, let the forfeit
Be nominated for an equal pound
Of your fair flesh, to be cut off and taken
In what part of your body pleaseth me.
ANTONIO
Content, i' faith: I'll seal to such a bond
And say there is much kindness in the Jew.
BASSANIO
You shall not seal to such a bond for me:
I'll rather dwell in my necessity.
ANTONIO
Why, fear not, man; I will not forfeit it:
Within these two months, that's a month before
This bond expires, I do expect return
Of thrice three times the value of this bond.
SHYLOCK
O father Abram, what these Christians are,
Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect
The thoughts of others! Pray you, tell me this;
If he should break his day, what should I gain
By the exaction of the forfeiture?
A pound of man's flesh taken from a man
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say,
To buy his favour, I extend this friendship:
If he will take it, so; if not, adieu;
And, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.
ANTONIO
Yes Shylock, I will seal unto this bond.
SHYLOCK
Then meet me forthwith at the notary's;
Give him direction for this merry bond,
And I will go and purse the ducats straight,
See to my house, left in the fearful guard
Of an unthrifty knave, and presently
I will be with you.
ANTONIO
Hie thee, gentle Jew.
Exit Shylock

The Hebrew will turn Christian: he grows kind.
BASSANIO
I like not fair terms and a villain's mind.
ANTONIO
Come on: in this there can be no dismay;
My ships come home a month before the day.
Exeunt



5. Gopa
As You Like It Act 5, Scene 3 The Forest
TOUCHSTONE
To-morrow is the joyful day, Audrey; to-morrow will
we be married.
AUDREY
I do desire it with all my heart; and I hope it is
no dishonest desire to desire to be a woman of the
world. Here comes two of the banished duke's pages.
Enter two Pages

First Page
Well met, honest gentleman.
TOUCHSTONE
By my troth, well met. Come, sit, sit, and a song.
Second Page
We are for you: sit i' the middle.
First Page
Shall we clap into't roundly, without hawking or
spitting or saying we are hoarse, which are the only
prologues to a bad voice?
Second Page
I'faith, i'faith; and both in a tune, like two
gipsies on a horse.
SONG.
It was a lover and his lass,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
That o'er the green corn-field did pass
In the spring time, the only pretty ring time,
When birds do sing, hey ding a ding, ding:
Sweet lovers love the spring.
Between the acres of the rye,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino
These pretty country folks would lie,
In spring time, & c.
This carol they began that hour,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
How that a life was but a flower
In spring time, & c.
And therefore take the present time,
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino;
For love is crowned with the prime
In spring time, & c.
TOUCHSTONE
Truly, young gentlemen, though there was no great
matter in the ditty, yet the note was very
untuneable.
First Page
You are deceived, sir: we kept time, we lost not our time.
TOUCHSTONE
By my troth, yes; I count it but time lost to hear
such a foolish song. God be wi' you; and God mend
your voices! Come, Audrey.
Exeunt


6. Joe
Sonnet 146
Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
Fooled by these rebel powers that thee array;
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?
Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
Eat up thy charge? is this thy body's end?
Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss,
And let that pine to aggravate thy store;
Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross;
Within be fed, without be rich no more:
So shalt thou feed on Death, that feeds on men,
And Death once dead, there's no more dying then.

HAMLET Act 3 Sc 1
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.

7. Priya
Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixèd mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

8. KumKum
Sonnet 97
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widow'd wombs after their lords' decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me
But hope of orphans and unfather'd fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

Prospero's Speech The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep. 

1 comment:

Shipra said...

Very rich, thoughtful, evocative recount of the EVENT: Remembering Shakespeare on his 400 Death Anniversary by Kochi Reading Group on April 22, 2016.
Enjoyed the blog more than the real event.
K2