Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy 445th, William Shakespeare!

Today marks the 445th birthday of William Shakespeare, playwright and poet extraordinaire. We're actually not positive that Shakespeare was born on April 23 -- historically we know that he was baptized on April 26, 1564, and at that time, most babies were baptized three days after their birth. We do know for certain that Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, apparently on his 52nd birthday.

It's difficult to choose a favorite play; in fact, I have to do it by category. My favorite tragedy is Othello; my favorite history is Henry V; my favorite comedy Measure for Measure, which I think I have to say is my favorite play overall. In fact, the latter play was the most recent Old Globe production I've seen, and I had never before seen a production, either live or on film, of Measure for Measure.

This morning as we started our school day here at home, right after our morning prayers, I read aloud several of Shakespeare's sonnets, including Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 116, the two most famous, as well as a couple more. And after lunch I read aloud a kids' book on Shakespeare and his works called The Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, illustrated by Diane Stanley. We also discussed Shakespeare and I read a few of his other poems in our little writing class with T, J, and Olivia.

On May 4 I will be starting my second Shakespeare Class at Brave Writer called One Thing: Shakespeare. Over a four-week period, we'll be reading an entire play together, the brilliant comedy Twelfth Night. I am preparing for getting the class going, and, as always, I am really excited to be teaching another wonderful Brave Writer course. Yay, Shakespeare!!!

I also wrote a very rough ode tonight to Shakespeare in honor of his 445th birthday. It needs a lot of work, but here's my 23rd poem of the month:

An Ode to William Shakespeare, On the 445th Anniversary of His Birth

Dear William ~
such the Bard you are!
Great, expansive love
expressed in perfect
blank verse.
Tales told of heroes and kings,
of ladies fair and brave
and of fools truthful and wise.

Tragedies, histories, comedies
have all flowed from your pen ~
remarkable women and
driven yet romantic men.
Love and hate,
jealousy and plotting,
you have drawn them all
with depth,
with wit,
and with empathy ~
characters whom we still
admire and debate
four hundred years later.

(c) 2009 Susanne Barrett

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