APRIL 23 1564-1616

“Are there any dates that are important to remember?” “Well, your birthday, your wife’s birthday, your mother’s birthday for sure, and Shakespeare’s birthday. NEVER forget your wedding anniversary.

. . .

On April 23, 1616, many will be celebrating the life and works of William Shakespeare, though it is the 400th anniversary of his death on that day. (Some speculate he may also have been born on the 23rd in 1564). Death is certainly part of many of his plays: dead bodies in Romeo and Juliet, bodies lying about in Hamlet, bloodied messes in Macbeth.

Yet there is also joy and happiness, and love and justice, friendship and mercy, drunken silliness, and even magic, sprites, ghosts, and witches writ large in his story telling.

And some good history, some bad history, some sad history–war, defeat, executions, conspiracy, deceit. Good rulers, bad rulers. (Alas, even some made-up history.)
So this is a time of remembering, for some reason, any reason, no reason. Some of what he wrote might just be worth remembering. “This above all: to thine own self be true.” (Hamlet 1.3)

. . .

*“He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” (Romeo and Juliet 2.2 1.)

*“We are such stuff / As dreams are made on, and our little life / Is rounded with a sleep.” (The Tempest 4.1.156-158)

*“O, I am Fortune’s fool!” (Romeo and Juliet 3.1)

*“The fault, dear Brutus, is not with our stars / But in ourselves that we are underlings.” (Julius Caesar 1.2)

*“But I do think it is their husbands’ faults / If wives do fall.” (Othello 4.3.87-88)

*“It is excellent / To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous / To use it like a giant.” (Measure for Measure 2.2)

*“The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” (The Merchant of Venice 1.3.99)

*“Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy. / It is the green-eyed monster. . . .” (Othello 3.3.165-66)

*“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet 2.2.43-44)

*“Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.” (Macbeth 5.5.23-28)

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4 comments
  1. I remember studying Shakespeare in school many years ago and a class trip to Stratford for the play Macbeth. Talk about making things come alive, engaging and understandable! I have a few books of his plays and was fascinated when I read your post. =) Well done, Sir!

  2. Shakespeare’s dates are one of the few things I can remember from my English literature teacher: 23rd April 1564 (15 something and at school, you first learn to add, so 1 and 5 make 6, then you learn to subtract , so 5-1 =4, hence 1564, then He conveniently died on his birthday in the 16 00s and decided to make that easy too by doubling it, hence 1616). We did a Midsummer Night’s Dream for O level, which I sadly failed as I wrote all about Romeo and Juliet having seen both plays at the pavillion. 😦

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