Sunday, April 24, 2016

400 Years Old - Gargoyles of Shakespearean Poetry - The Truant Disposition


I'm sure that quite a lot of folks have clicked today (April 23rd, 2016) on the Google main page link referencing Shakespeare. 

A momentous anniversary – four hundred years since Shakespeare’s death (on April 23rd, 1616) a crateful of words and centuries to sift through what remains one of the most enduring legacies of the human spirit.

Floors of the  Folger Shakespeare Library

It’s highly unlikely that within the span of my life I will ever get to experience another similar ‘magic’ number as it pertains to Shakespeare…hence today feels like a special milestone in my life.

And here is why.

I am lucky to have lived through this time - April 2016 - and crossed paths today with a 400 years old comet of wit and melancholy that swirls around this planet since the Bard’s passing away.

Granted, the comet - as most Shakespeare readers know - is a capricious manifestation of a  despondent aura that plays on puns and preys on our intellect with inescapable dark charm: words, words, words.

Shakespeare’s wordiness though is one of a ‘truant disposition’ – as Horatio might talk of it (in Hamlet) - and it brings about some memorable, 400 years old poetic gargoyles:

"Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new."

                            -   from Sonnet XXIVII

I call such aggregations of intense and dizzying metaphors Shakespearean gargoyles, an incessant gurgling of ideas and images which continue to flood our imagination and to haunt us after we've absorbed them.

In a previous post I likened Shakespeare’s inclination to insert an episode of fantastic poetry in a dramatic scene with a gargoyle-like spouting mechanism, a relief valve meant to balance the tension in the play - a slight variation on the Shakespearean gargoyle theme.

Whatever figment of imagination a Shakespeare verse may invoke for you on this four century long month of April 2016, take solace in it.

“For we, which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.”

                             -   from Sonnet CVI

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