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It might be Shakespeare’s birthday

April 23, 2020

Happy birthday William Shakespeare! We don’t really know for sure that he was born on this day, 23rd April; we know he was born in the month of April, and because his birth was registered on the 25th (I seem to remember learning in school) and they got babies christened pretty quickly in those days in case they died first, it’s often conjectured that he probably was born on the 23rd, or anyway very close to it. Anyway we do know for sure that he died on this day, and there’s a neatness about the idea that he died on his birthday which appeals; and that it should fall on St George’s Day would be good too.

Some of my favourite Shakespeare lines or phrases:

cream-faced loon 

Would thou wouldst burst!

Now God stand up for bastards!

The bright day is done, and we are for the dark

‘Tis the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on

I’ll put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes

If you tickle me, do I not laugh?

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick. Nobody marks you.

Ill met by moonlight!

The rain it raineth every day.

The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

His stomach crammed with distressful bread

Nothing will come of nothing

Which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?

Let me have men about me that are fat

Double double toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble

this precious stone set in a silver sea

Why didst thou promise such a bounteous day/And make me travel forth without my cloak?

the beast with two backs

Golden lads and girls all must/As chimney sweepers, come to dust

full of sound and fury, signifying nothing

sell when you can; you are not for all markets

your bum is the greatest thing about you

That’s a random selection from those that have just bubbled up in my brain. I must have missed out loads of better ones. Any further nominations welcome!

By the way, did you know that ‘William Shakespeare’ is an anagram for ‘We all make his praise’? I owe that fact to Flann O’Brien.

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9 Comments
  1. Simon Carter permalink

    Another anagram: The immortal bard William Shakespeare = This admirable writer shall make a poem.
    There is also the theory that although he didn’t write the plays he gets the credit because actors balked at appearing for the Royal Bacon Company.

  2. Ah – didn’t know that anagram. Thanks!

  3. auke permalink

    As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport

    So long as men can breath or eyes can see,
    So long lives this, and this gives life to thee

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks

  4. auke permalink

    Reply not to me with a fool-born jest

    If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended.
    That you have but slumbered here, while these visions did appear

    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

  5. auke permalink

    Ai, that sounds a bit rude, ‘reply not to me…’, just after you replied. That was not intended!
    (thanks)

    • Ross Foley permalink

      Auke: in this instance, one might adapt another one of the Bard’s lines to “The timing was out of joint.”

  6. Mark Brafield permalink

    So many, but two that lodge in the mind –

    ‘He smote the sledded Pollacks on the ice’

    ‘And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils’

    I remember sitting through a whole performance of Cymbeline at the Barbican one wet Saturday afternoon just waiting for that one line.

    In his excellent autobiography ‘The Unexpected Professor’, John Carey talks about how random lines of Shakespeare like this pop into his mind during the day, and how he gets a buzz each time. The same phenomenon appears in ‘Ulysses’ which is, funnily enough, where I first came across the ‘crooked smokes’ quotation before I traced it to Shakespeare.

    Incidentally, don’t I recall rather a good play at Bancrofts called ‘Deus ex Machina’ which took Cymbeline as its starting point ?

  7. Oh, Mark, that is really too good a memory! I’m impressed.

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