Wherefore art thou Romeo? But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
Shakespearean language can be a mouthful, but it has a poetic ring that charms us even today.
There are vivid phrases from the Bard which still resonate with meaning and dramatically reflect life’s dilemmas.
You would need to be a hermit not to know our greatest playwright and poet died 400 years ago this week.
Veteran actor Sir Ian McKellen has said we should stop browbeating schoolchildren by Shakespeare being studied in class. Plays are better acted out on stage, he says; reading them puts off pupils, who then miss a wealth of literature for life.
However, I still recall phrases learned from textbooks for GCEs.
They have fortified me through the years. The wisdom, for example, of loveable rogue Falstaff who advises us in Henry IV that, “the better part of valour is discretion”. At the time he is lying on a bloody battlefield pretending to be dead – but we know what he means.
It certainly helped us students to understand the words when we saw them acted out in professional performances. However, the most telling part of any education comes from a talented and dedicated teacher.
Simon Callow also thinks Henry IV Parts One and Two reflect “all of human life”. No, not that Simon Callow off the talent shows! I mean the veteran Shakespearean actor.
Then there’s Richard III, summing up lost majesty with, “My kingdom for a horse!”; or the tragic Macbeth: “Is this a dagger which I see before me?”
Finally, those memorable sentiments in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.”
Zounds! As they said in those days. That chap had a way with words!
* For Roy’s books, visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.