Monday, June 20, 2011

History of English Poetry, Chapter Six: Shakespeare

Oh yeah. I got carried away and forgot to mention a fairly important poet who comes in between Chaucer and Wordsworth.

All I really have to say about Shakespeare, at the moment, is that he set out, deliberately and with great ambition, to become the English Seneca and the English Terence.

What he succeeded in, almost accidentally, was becoming the greatest English poet and the greatest dramatic poet in the world. That was mostly the result of a strange magic between him and his audiences, I guess. He shot much higher than he aimed.

I know. We say, he wanted to be the English who? Who gives a damn about Seneca and Terence?

It just goes to show – something. I'm not sure what.


Zhoen said...

We look so far back, then we have to rely on the relay.

Jarrett said...

It shows that you can be an ambitious patriarchy-worshipping social climber and a self-annihilating Buddhist at the same time. The joke on Shakespeare is that the self-annihilating work of the theatre man is what made him famous. Really, can YOU get through Venus and Adonis?

Dale said...

I've read every word that son of a bitch ever wrote, Jarrett. Now, can I *remember* any of Venus and Adonis? No chance :-)

But yes, I agree, I think he probably did a lot of his best work in the scramble to get some really hot lines for some particular actor to wow some particular crowd -- when the last thing on his mind was brass monuments.