Shakespeare: Comin' Out Strong!
Updated: Nov 19, 2018
A friend recently posted some Shakespeare-isms on social media. It got me thinking.
Dear Hearts: I have mentioned many times that “Writers read!”. And the classics are some of the best! Timeless, rich, and meaningful literature always withstands the test of time.
But I never really liked reading / studying Shakespeare. If memory serves me, I believe we spent an entire semester my sophomore year of high school on this guy.
At the time, I thought, “Why?”
What a fossil! And there is so much more great literature out there.
But alas, I suppose it was required curriculum; which is probably why my English teacher, Ms. Hightower (who, although she was one of my favorite educators, mispronounced my first name both the entire freshman and sophomore years. She called me “JANya” instead of “JAYna” the whole time), stood at the front of the classroom and patiently listened as we slogged through the reading of several of old William’s boring plays. Trust me when I tell you I would much rather have spent fourth period (after lunch, no less! Where's my snooze button?) diagramming sentences! Seriously. I loved that stuff. Nothing like a good dissection of English language anatomy following the rapid-fire ingestion of high school cafeteria grub.
Freshman year, we read Greek and Roman Mythology; which, surprisingly enough, I thoroughly enjoyed! But somewhere around the end of freshman year or the beginning of sophomore year, we read Steinbeck’s “The Red Pony”. I’m a Steinbeck fan now - have spent considerable time visiting Cannery Row in Monterey, and love the old classic, “Grapes of Wrath”; however, next to “Tortilla Flats”, “The Red Pony” was his worst! And then came Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”. I have no idea why the absolute most deplorable works of these great authors were chosen! These particular tomes must have been on sale.
My faith in Ms. Hightower’s reading choices had begun to wane. By second semester of my second year of high school, when she busted out the Shakespeare, it was all I could do to drag myself to class, much less stay awake!
English class suddenly "had an alacrity of sinking" from being my second favorite subject all the way down to dead last! UGH! I simply failed to see the value in spending an entire semester enduring this pain!
Fast forward to present day.
My minor in college was English, I am an author, and a linguist (well . . .almost. I’m still making my way through the coursework toward a post-graduate certificate in linguistics, but at glacial speed. It’s much tougher than I originally thought, and is taking at least twice as long as I’d planned). The closest I had ever come - in my life! - to enjoying Shakespeare was when I sang the role of "Cornelia" in Handel's exquisite opera, Giulio Cesare.
But when I saw my friend’s social media post yesterday, I did sit up and take notice of old Billy - perhaps for the first time in my life!
I actually saw purpose in his writing.
“Why?” You may ask. I’ll tell you! My friend’s post included a relatively exhaustive list of the things we say today which we owe to Shakespeare (some of them were a complete surprise to me!). Feast your eyes!:
Knock Knock, Who’s There? In a Pickle
Set Your Teeth On Edge
Fight Fire with Fire
Heart of Gold
Send Him Packing
Come What May
The Game is Up Where Your Heart On Your Sleeve
Not Slept One Wink
Out of the Jaws of Death
Too Much of a Good Thing
What’s Done is Done
Break the Ice
The Naked Truth
Breathed His Last Wild Goose Chase
Vanish Into Thin Air
Heart of Hearts
Make Your Hair Stand On End
For Goodness’ Sake
Love is Blind
Seen Better Days
Dead as a Doornail
Off with His Head
Fair Play / Foul Play
Brave New World
The World is My Oyster
Be All / End All
Therefore . . . my most humble apologies to my high school English teacher for my teenage Debbie Downer attitude (for all we know, that could have been one of Shakespeare’s sayings as well!).
As it turns out, the guy happens to be a legend! Who knew? Dear Hearts: I live on the left coast where Shakespeare plays are alive and well, mostly year round. We even have "Shakespeare on the Beach!" Perhaps I'll "bite the bullet" (Okay, so that's a Kipling phrase. I don't think Willy minds), make Ms. Hightower proud, and go check it out one of these days!