Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Bard of Avon

Tomorrow, April 23rd, is known as William Shakespeare's date of death and is also celebrated as his birth date as well. In case you are not able to attend the festivities in merrie olde England, here are some ways you might tip your hat to the Bard:

1) Read one of his wonderful plays or enjoy a sonnet. Every home library ought to contain a collected works of Shakespeare to dip into.

2) Try your hand at the Shakespeare Sonnet Shake-up, a fun website that allows you to create your own sonnet using lines from the Immortal One.

3) Attend a Shakespeare play and soak up some Elizabethan atmosphere. Lots of college and local theater groups incorporate Shakespeare's works in their annual schedules.

4) Read Leon Rooke's bawdy, intelligent novel "Shakespeare's Dog" (NY: Ecco Press, 1986), which chronicles Will Shakespizzle's (variant spelling) life from the point of view of his dog, the notably unneutered Mr. Hooker.

5) Memorize a Shakepearean insult or two. Here are some memorable bits of invective from the plays:

-"This is a slight unmeritable man, meet to be sent on errands." (Julius Caesar)
-"[Thou art] wither'd like an old apple-john." (Henry IV, Part 1)
-"Drunkeness is his best virtue." (All's Well That Ends Well)
-"Would the fountain of your mind were clear again, that I might water an ass at it." (Troilus and Cressida)
-"You juggler! You canker-blossom!" (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
-"Then did the sun on dunghill shine." (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
-"Thou hast need of more rags to lay on thee." (The Winter's Tale)

6) Cook up a batch of Macbeth Soup:

1ST WITCH: Round about the caldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.-
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thiry-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charm├Ęd pot!

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and, caldron bubble.

2ND WITCH: Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,-
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire, burn; and, caldron, bubble.

3RD WITCH: Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk; and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangl'd babe,
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,-
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our caldron.

ALL: Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire, burn; and, caldron, bubble.

2ND WITCH: Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

--Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1

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