Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Poetry - William Shakespeare

I'm off to the movies this afternoon to see the Almeida Theatre production of Richard III with Ralph Fiennes & Vanessa Redgrave as Queen Margaret. It's had some interesting reviews here & here.
As a member of the Richard III Society I disagree with a lot of Shakespeare's ideas, but I do love this play & this opening speech by Gloucester, soon to be King, laying out his evil plans right from the start. Such a famous speech with some wonderful images - the dogs barking as he halts by them & "descant on mine own deformity" as he observes his shadow & the first four lines ending on that sombre "buried" & the pun on son/sun.
I'm looking forward to seeing what Ralph Fiennes makes of it & I'm sure I'll have to reread Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time afterwards as well as several issues of The Ricardian.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting barded steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity:
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover,
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other:
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up,
About a prophecy, which says that 'G'
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul: here
Clarence comes.


  1. what a double-dyed villain! great play and it should be a gas! it boggles the mind how actors can remember all those lines...

    1. I'm looking forward to it. I saw Antony Sher with the RSC here in Australia in the early 80s & of course I've seen the Olivier movie. I also have the recent Hollow Crown on DVD with Benedict Cumberbatch (haven't had time to watch it yet) so lots of opportunities to compare RF's performance.

  2. I'm a Ricardian too and reread Tey's Daughter of Time regularly.

    1. I've just bought the audio version of TDOT read by Derek Jacobi from Audible. I've listened to it several times on CD & even on cassette, I think, but it was such a good deal with Whispersync to get the book & audio for only about $6AU, I couldn't resist having it always. I'm sure I'll be feeling very Ricardian after seeing the play.

  3. Any excuse to reread The Daughter of Time is a good excuse. I seem to have misplaced my copy. Such a pity since I have been in the mood for it. I hope you enjoyed your movie.

    1. I did! It was terrific, especially Vanessa Redgrave & the actor playing Queen Elizabeth, must look up who itvwas, the credits were too quick. I have four copies of TDOT, if only I could loan you one.

  4. You no doubt watched QandA last Monday night with John Bell and Germaine Greer re Shakespeare. If not be sure to see it on iView. It will be there until 19 Sept.

    1. I did, I thought it was great. A change from the usual politicians.

  5. Such a nice reminder of how great he was. I just read it to myself aloud and positively scared myself! :-)

    1. The play was great. Always good to hear Shakespeare spoken & see it on the stage or screen.