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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Dramatis personae
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2343  Thursday, 11 December 2003

From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Wednesday, 10 Dec 2003 06:47:56 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2327 Dramatis personae
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2327 Dramatis personae

Terence Hawkes wrote, "It is evidently necessary to remind colleagues
that rule number 22, governing readings of Hamlet, provides...Failure to
observe these provisions may result in the offender being branded
'fanciful'. God is not mocked."

Bill Arnold wrote, "Wasn't it Englishman A. E. Housman the cynic-author
of 'A Shropshire Lad' who wrote, 'Terence, this is stupid stuff'?

Sean Lawrence writes, "I'd hate to break what appears to be rule #1,
that failure to be sarcastic may result in the offender being labelled
naive, but...By the way, what happened to the Terence Hawkes who
ridicules everyone who says anything whatsoever about characters as if
they were real people (say, with a mother and a father)?  Somebody
should let him know that an impostor is posting under his name."

Rolland Banker writes, "Paging Bishop Berkeley!  But first for those who
are laboring heavily as in a nutshell during my attempted fusion of
reality and the fictive realms of art and psychology in Hamlet...  We
fear not derision!"

Don Bloom wrote, "Dunno, Bill, I have trouble keeping track of reality
as depicted on the front pages of the newspapers, much less in the inner
pages of Shakespeare's alleged texts."

To which, I, Bill Arnold, real person and author and creator of this
post--nothing *fictive* about it--acknowledge I shall never forbear,
respond: forswearing, noting all *cynics* about Will S's play Hamlet may
certainly find their names substituted in the following A. E.  Houseman
poem without a whit/wit of *Terence* parody or satire foregone; neither
can any *cynic* change one line, forsaking all others, of Prince
Hamlet's *good Will* as author Will S *intended* with malefic
malformations of malicious wit!  So too, forsooth, may you substitute
the cynic "Claudius" for "Terence" below!  Into your cups, me lads!

Aye, Mateys, in the *Spirit* of Christmases, Past and Present, aye! As
A. E.'s ancestors roared, "Drink, drink, me lads, drink it up!!!  Long
live Good Prince Hamlet as Will S *made* him up out of *whole* cloth,
leaving no threads bare for nitpickers to shred nor unravel!

Terence, this is stupid stuff

 Terence, this is stupid stuff:
You eat your victuals fast enough;
There can't be much amiss, 'tis clear,
To see the rate you drink your beer.
But oh, good Lord, the verse you make,
It gives a chap the belly-ache.
The cow, the old cow, she is dead;
It sleeps well, the horned head:
We poor lads, 'tis our turn now
To hear such tunes as killed the cow.
Pretty friendship 'tis to rhyme
Your friends to death before their time
Moping melancholy mad:
Come, pipe a tune to dance to, lad."

 Why, if 'tis dancing you would be
There's brisker pipes than poetry.
Say, for what were hop-yards meant,
Or why was Burton built on Trent?
Oh, many a peer of England brews
Livelier liquor than the Muse,
And malt does more than Milton can
To justify God's ways to man.
Ale, man, ale's the stuff to drink
For fellows whom it hurts to think:
Look into the pewter pot
To see the world as the world's not.
And faith, 'tis pleasant till 'tis past:
The mischief is that 'twill not last.
Oh I have been to Ludlow fair
And left my necktie god knows where,
And carried half-way home, or near,
Pints and quarts of Ludlow beer:
Then the world seemed none so bad,
And I myself a sterling lad;
And down in lovely muck I've lain,
Happy till I woke again.
Then I saw the morning sky:
Heigho, the tale was all a lie;
The world, it was the old world yet,
I was I, my things were wet,
And nothing now remained to do
But begin the game anew.

 Therefore, since the world has still
Much good, but much less good than ill,
And while the sun and moon endure
Luck's a chance, but trouble's sure,
I'd face it as a wise man would,
And train for ill and not for good.
'Tis true, the stuff I bring for sale
Is not so brisk a brew as ale:
Out of a stem that scored the hand
I wrung it in a weary land.
But take it: if the smack is sour,
The better for the embittered hour;
It should do good to heart and head
When your soul is in my soul's stead;
And I will friend you, if I may,
In the dark and cloudy day.

 There was a king reigned in the East:
There, when kings will sit to feast,
They get their fill before they think
With poisoned meat and poisoned drink.
He gathered all that springs to birth
From the many-venomed earth;
First a little, thence to more,
He sampled all her killing store;
And easy, smiling, seasoned sound,
Sate the king when healths went round.
They put arsenic in his meat
And stared aghast to watch him eat;
They poured strychnine in his cup
And shook to see him drink it up:
They shook, they stared as white's their shirt:
Them it was their poison hurt
        - I tell the tale that I heard told.
Mithridates, he died old.

        -- A. E. Housman

Bill Arnold
http://www.cwru.edu/affil/edis/scholars/arnold.htm

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