The Bard – aka William Shakespeare

william-shakespeare-29

The word “bard” means poet. Bards were traveling poets in medieval times, who made a living performing and telling stories. Shakespeare’s plays can be grouped into three categories:

  • Comedies – Well known comedies include: A Midsummer Nights Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and As You Like It.

  • Tragedies – Some popular tragedies are: Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Macbeth, and Hamlet.

  • Histories – Some of his best histories would be Richard III, Henry IV, Henry V, and Henry VI.

One thing that set him apart from other playwrights was the way he would combine parts of all three categories, so his tragedies would have comic relief and comedies would have some serious parts. This was something that had not been done before that time.

Part of the genius that is Shakespeare was the fact that his work appealed to everyone, from kings to peasants. More than 400 years have passed since his birth, and his plays are still being read and performed all over the world.

 Shakespeare had influence in shaping the English language more than anyone has ever done. Over 2000 new words and phrases were created by him, including: football, schoolboy, mimic, upstairs, downstairs, shooting star, and partner.

There are many famous quotes of Shakespeare that have lasted through time that most educated people know. These show how he is still influencing our lives today:

  • “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” (Romeo and Juliet)

  • “To be, or not to be, that is the question.” (Hamlet)

  • “Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!” (Macbeth)

  • “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

  • “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (Sonnet 18)

  • “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” (As You Like It)

Most of Shakespeare’s sonnets are constructed of three quatrains, or four-line stanzas, and end with a couplet (two lines). This makes up the 14-line sonnet.

The rhythm of each line is iambic pentamiter In English, to have a certain rhythm in a poem, you use a combination of stressed and unstressed syllables. Iambic is two syllables; the first is not stressed, but the second is accented. Each set of two syllables is called a foot, and five feet make up a pentameter. So each line of a Shakespearean sonnet has ten syllables.  Courtesy of YourDictionary.com

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Between 1593 and 1594, theatres in London were closed because of the plague. During this period Shakespeare wrote two famous narrative poems. …Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets in total. We don’t know who they are addressed to, or even if they were all written about the same person.

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There is much written about The Bard and the meaning between his lines. As any writer knows it is usually up to the reader to make it there own.

One of my favourite Sonnets is Sonnet 29.

When, in disgrace with fortune

and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast

state,

And trouble deaf heaven with

my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse

my fate,

Wishing me like to one more

rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him

with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art and

that man’s fate,

With what I most enjoy

contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself

almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and

then my state,

Like to the lark at break of

day arising

From sullen earth sings hymns

at heaven’s gate

For thy sweet love

remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to

change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare

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Published by

Jen Goldie

"Life is made up of small comings and goings and for everything we take with us, we leave a part of ourselves behind" - Summer of 42

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