Archive | December, 2012

How did they (stage a play) in The Taming of the Shrew

There are several plays of Shakespeare’s which contain a play with in a play. Such as Love’s Labour’s Lost and Hamlet. But the Taming of the Shrew is unique in that the play within the play takes up almost the whole play. Within this play The Taming of The Shrew is in fact the title of […]

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Christmas Star

Sonnet for Christmas

Perhaps this is the perfect Shakespeare sonnet for Christmas Day, when millions throughout the world celebrate God’s own gift of love in the person of Jesus. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to Sonnets for Advent, and especially to the students and faculty at the University of Tubingen for hosting their own Sonnets for […]

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'Will to boot and will in overplus'

Sonnets for Advent 24: Sonnet 135

Is this the most outrageous sonnet of them all? If ‘will’ is slang for both the male and female sexual organs, sexual passion, and is an abbreviated, familiar form of Shakespeare’s first name, then the possible meanings of Sonnet 135 are playfully numerous and potentially surreal.There are 13 mentions of ‘will’ which suggests deliberate obsession […]

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'Ere you were born was beauty's summer dead'

Sonnets for Advent 23: Sonnet 104

This sonnet marks the passing of time over three years. For people wanting to turn Shakespeare’s collection into a narrative sequence, Sonnet 104 is an important point of reference (the relationship between Shakespeare and ‘the Young Man’ has now lasted three years). But again there is no mention of the sex of the addressee and […]

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Photo: rainbowfoundation.net

Sonnets for Advent 22: Sonnet 102

Although Sonnet 102 is highly lyrical it is ostensibly about lyrical restraint. The poet must be careful not to write too much in praise of the beloved, since ‘sweets grown common lose their dear delight.’ But it’s the memory of their love when new that carries the reader through the central section, and here the […]

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'Proud pied April dressed in all his trim'

Sonnets for Advent 21: Sonnet 98

From its incidental, understated beginning through to its rich sounds of ‘Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose’, Sonnet 98 evokes the presence of the lover in the natural world, a presence sought in and inspired by the season of spring. Sonnet 98 is the one that Mrs Ramsey is struck by towards the […]

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'as the sun is daily new and old'

Sonnets for Advent 20: Sonnet 76

I like to think of this sonnet as coming at the midway point in the collection. It seems utterly appropriate at this half-way stage that the poet should be asking, ‘Why is my verse so barren of new pride’? How can he keep re-inventing new ways to praise the beloved? Here again his expressions of […]

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Can I hear something....?

How did they (stage eavesdropping) in Much Ado About Nothing

Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain scenes where characters listen in on one another. Hamlet (where Polonius gets killed doing it) The Tempest (where Prospero checks up on his daughter doing it) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (where four characters do it to each other all at once)! As we see from this list this gag can […]

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'where late the sweet bird sang'

Sonnets for Advent 19: Sonnet 73

Autumn leaves (‘or few, or none’), ruined abbeys, the anxiety of age, and a longing to be cherished are all evoked through the musicality of Sonnet 73. Shakespeare’s sonnets are not all equally lyrical. This one is in part characterised by its sibillance (‘Death’s second self that seals up all in rest’) and in part […]

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