Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

A Monologue from Shakespeare’s Hamlet

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 heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. 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,
Th’ 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 th’ 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 undiscovered 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 enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! — Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

Shakespeare, “Hamlet”


Olivier’s Version

Gibson’s Version

Branagh’s Version

Hawke’s Version (2000)

Tennant’s Version


Annie Hall – Woody Allen’s Opening Monologue

Galadriel’s Opening Monologue – Peter Jackson’s LOTR

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That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.


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Francesco Petrarca – Petrarch – from Canzoniere
trans. Mark Musa

Sonnet 3

It was the day the sun’s ray had turned pale

with pity for the suffering of his Maker

when I was caught (and I put up no fight),

my lady, for your lovely eyes had bound me.

It seemed no time to be on guard against

Love’s blows; therefore, I went my way

secure and fearless – so, all my misfortunes began

in the midst of universal woe.

Love found me all disarmed and saw the way

was clear to reach my heart down through the eyes,

which have become the halls and doors of tears.

It seems to me it did him little honor

to wound me with his arrow in my state

and to you, armed, not show his bow at all.

Sonnet 157

That day for forevermore so cruel and honored

sent to my heart its image so alive

there is no wit or style that can describe it,

but often I recall it with my mind.

Her attitude, adorned with gracious pity,

the bittersweet lamenting that I heard,

caused me to wonder were she mortal woman

or goddess, for she cleared the sky around her.

Her head fine gold, her face was like warm snow,

her eyebrows ebony, her eyes two stars

from where Love never bent his bow in vain—

pearls and red roses where the gathered grief was

transformed into ardent, lovely words—

her sighs of blame, her tears as though of crystal.

Sonnet 90

She’d let her gold hair flow free in the breeze

and whirled it into thousands of sweet knots,

and lovely light would burn beyond all measure

in those fair eyes whose light is dimmer now.

Her face would turn the color pity wears,

a pity true or false I did not know,

and I with all love’s tinder in my breast—

it’s no surprise I quickly caught on fire.

The way she walked was not the way of mortals

but of angelic forms, and when she spoke

more than an earthly voice it was that sang:

a godly spirit and a living sun

was what I saw, and if she is not now,

my wound still bleeds, although the bow’s unbent.

Sonnet 5

When I summon my sighs to call for you,

with the name love inscribed upon my heart,

And LAUdable sound at the beginning

of the sweet accents of that word comes forth.

Your REgal state which I encounter next

doubles my strength for the high enterprise,

that “TAcitly the end cries, “for her honor

These better shoulders for support than yours.”

And so, to LAUd and to REvere the word

itself instructs whenever someone calls you,

A lady worthy of all praise and honor –

Unless, perhaps, Apollo be offended

A morTAl tongue be so presumptuous

to speak of his eternally green boughs.

*Laure ta, laure ta! : praise you, praise you!

Sir Philip Sidney

Astrophil & Stella 9

Queen Virtue’s court, which some call Stella’s face,

prepared by nature’s chiefest furniture,

hath his front built of alabaster pure:

gold is the covering of that stately place.

The door, by which sometimes comes forth her grace,

red porphyr is, which lock of pearl make sure;

whose porches rich, which name of cheeks endure,

marble, mixed red and white, do interlace.

The windows now, through which this heavenly guest

looks over the world and can nothing such

which dare claim from those lights the name of best,

of touch they are that without touch doth touch,

which Cupid’s self from Beauty’s mine did draw:

of touch they are and poor I am their straw.

Lady Mary Wroth (neice of Sir Philip Sidney)

Pamphila to Amphilanthus 1

When night’s blacke Mantle could most darknesse proue,

And sleepe (deaths Image) did my senses hyre,

From Knowledge of my selfe, then thoughts did moue

Swifter then those, most swiftnesse neede require.

In sleepe, a Chariot drawne by wing’d Desire,

I saw; where sate bright Venus Queene of Loue,

And at her feete her Sonne, still adding Fire

To burning hearts, which she did hold aboue,

But one heart flaming more then all the rest,

The Goddesse held, and put it to my breast,

Deare Sonne now shoot, said she: thus must we winne;

He her obey’d, and martyr’d my poore heart.

I waking hop’d as dreames it would depart,

Yet since, O me, a Lover I haue beene.

Edmund Spenser



My mistress eyes are nothing like the sun;

coral is far more red than her lips red:

if snow be white, whyy then her breasts are dun;

if hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,

but no such roses see I in her cheeks,

and in some perfumes is there more delight

than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

that music has a far more pleasing sound.

I grant I never saw a goddess go:

my mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.

and yet, by heaven I think my love as rare

as any she belied with false compare.

Sting’s “Sister Moon


Sonnet 14

Batter my heart, three-personed God, for you

As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;

That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend

Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.

I, like a usurped town, to another due,

Labor to admit you, but O, to no end;

Reason, your viceroy in me, and me should defend,

But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,

That am betrothed unto your enemy.

Divorce me, untie or break that knot again;

Take me to you, imprison me, for I,

Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,

Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Sonnet 17

Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt

To nature, and to hers, and my good is dead,

And her soul early into heaven ravished,

Wholly on heavenly things my mind is set.

Here the admiring her my mind did whet

To seek thee, God; so streams to show the head;

But though I have found thee, and thou my thirst hast fed,

A wholly thirsty dropsy melts me yet.

But why should I beg more love, whenas thou

Dost woo my soul, for hers offering all thine;

And dost not only fear lest I allow

My love to saints and angels, things divine,

But in thy tender jealousy dost doubt

Lest the world, flesh, yea the devil put thee out.

Sonnet 18

Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear.

What! Is it she which on the other shore

Goes richly painted? Or which, robbed and tore,

Laments and mourns in Germany and here?

Sleep she a thousand, then peeps up one year?

Is she self-truth, and errs? Now new, now outwore?

Does she, and did she, and shall she evermore

On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?

Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights

First travel we seek, and then make love?

Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,

And let mine amorous soul court thy mild dove,

Who is most true and pleasing to thee then

When she is embraced and open to most men.

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I am so happy today. I have been blessed to hear a new and beautiful song on the radio! I love music. Shakespeare wrote: “If music be the food of love, play on!” How right he was … and how right Train is when you hear their new single, “Marry Me.”

Listen to the on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ess2qlVHl6E

May the song fill your heart with joy!


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“Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day:
it was the nightingale, and not the lark,
that pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;
nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:
believe me, love, it was the nightingale.”

~ Juliet, Romeo & Juliet III.v

“Why should we, in the compass of a pale,
keep law, and form, and due proportion,
showing, as in a model, our firm estate,
when our sea-walled garden, the whole land,
is full of weeds, her fairest flowers choked up,
her fruit-trees all unpruned, her hedges ruin’d,
her knots disorder’d, and her wholesome herbs
swarming with caterpillars?”

~ Servant, King Richard II III.iv

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance: pray, love, remember … and there is for pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

~ Ophelia, Hamlet IV.v

(SF: Chronicle Books, 1994)

Commentary: This lovely little book reproduces selections from Shakespeare’s plays that meditate on flowers alongside pictures of flowers taken from manuscripts and early printed books.

In the selections above, Juliet asks her lover not to leave her and mentions the pomegranate tree, a servant notes how weeds have choked up a sea-walled garden, and Ophelia, with rosemary and pansies in her hands, reminds us to remember and to think in the midst of everything.

My favorite flower is the sunflower because she always turns her face toward the sun … follows that great light across the sky all day … and then waits through the night for dawn to come.

*What is your favorite flower? Why? Do you know of a poem that makes reference to your favorite flower in a beautiful way?

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Man, woman, sprite,
flower, spume, or mist —
whatever got me in its
belly, bud, or tendrils —
it’s gone, gone, let go from here
by the man/father/namer being
that walked upright and said such words
as held an Ariel-thing leashed upon this beach,
and I’m left here, a creature
egged or seeded in a tree
lullayed by bees,
suckled on the spit of hummingbirds,
delivered by dragonflies
already old, and dripping honey from my breasts,
wombless, willow-haired, six-fingered,
barren keeper of a fertile place.
The rocks here move on feet, the trees uproot
and root themselves on the reefs around the isle
to keep the sight of ships
from us, the story-wrecked.
All alone with monsters,
flowery fish, fishy trees, wingy flowers,
I catch and eat still-beating hearts of birds.
And if I sleep, the dark draws in its fingers,
cutting off the color of my breath. I do not sleep.
I open oysters, slit their hinges,
lay them out beneath the moon,
watch them glisten at the stars,
then shrivel in the rising sun,
dead around their pearls.
I throw myself against the rocks
until I am pierced
and beg the stones to let me
bring forth from underneath my skin
an egg, a sac, a pearl, some
thing with eyes to see me, some
thing I’ll know I must not eat, some being
that along with me, might make a population
for this place, that we together
might have names and histories.

Commentary: When I was in Santa Fe, New Mexico at the Glen Workshop, I met fellow poet Devon Miller-Duggan, a professor at the University of Delaware and the author of Pinning the Bird to the Wall (Tres Chicas Books, 2008).

I love her lyrical narratives, creative descriptions, and sensuous language. This poem is rich with all of those qualities, alluding as it does to the sprite Ariel who appears in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” and giving voice to his imaginary daughter.

The beauty and pain in the life of this “creature” bears witness to the poet’s experience in a way that is true.

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