Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Shakespyeare: Day 211 - Shakespeare and the Starlings

In the summers of 1890 and 1891, Eugene Schieffelin released 100 starlings in Central Park. This was part of his goal to introduce to America every bird mentioned in Shakespeare's canon. He imported and released nightingales, skylarks, bullfinches, and starlings. All of these failed to thrive and died out, all except the starlings which established themselves in New York City then spread out. Today, they span the continent with a population of 200 million, all descendents of the Shakespearean hundred. And all because of a little line in Henry IV:

I'll have a starling shall be taught to speak
    Nothing but 'Mortimer,' and give it him
    To keep his anger still in motion.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Love and Theft - Housman and Heine

Reading Heine today, I came across the poem below. It's a clear point of departure for Housman's "Sinner's Rue." This unacknowledged translation is not a translation only but an expansion. It is a great example of my thesis that all is fair in love, war, and literature. If the end result is good poetry, who cares what skullduggery and nefariousness occurred in bringing it to being.


They buried him at the cross-roads,               Am Kreuzweg wird begraben
Whose own hand wrought his doom ;            Wer selber sich brachte um;
And over him grow blue flowers                    Dort wächst eine blaue Blume,
Called the " Poor-Sinner's Bloom."                Die Armesünderblum.

I stand at the cross-roads sighing,                  Am Kreuzweg stand ich und seufzte;
Wrapped in a cloak of gloom,                       Die Nacht war kalt und stumm.
And watch the moonlight trembling                Im Mondschein bewegte sich langsam
On the Poor-Sinner's Bloom.                        Die Armesünderblum.


I walked alone and thinking,
And faint the nightwind blew
And stirred on mounds at crossways
The flower of sinner's rue.

Where the roads part they bury
Him that his own hand slays,
And so the weed of sorrow
Springs at the four cross ways.

By night I plucked it hueless,
When morning broke 'twas blue:
Blue at my breast I fastened
The flower of sinner's rue.

It seemed a herb of healing,
A balsam and a sign,
Flower of a heart whose trouble
Must have been worse than mine.

Dead clay that did me kindness,
I can do none to you,
But only wear for breastknot
The flower of sinner's rue.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

SoBe Lifewater

Shakespyeare: Day 199 - Lakespeare

Reading The Tempest on Strawberry Lake
Come unto these yellow sands,
And then take hands:
Curtsied when you have, and kiss'd
The wild waves whist,
Foot it featly here and there;
And, sweet sprites, the burthen bear.
Hark, hark!
The watch-dogs bark.
Hark, hark! I hear
The strain of strutting chanticleer
Cry, Cock-a-diddle-dow.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
                                                                                  Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Shakespyeare: Day 192 - Sharkspeare

An autocorrect from my friend Sunshine's kindle: Sharkeats -> Shakespeare. I'm not sure why she was googling Sharkeats...

#edit: I have my answer. She was typing I hope a shark eats Tara Reid. This raises as many questions as it answers.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Shakespyeare: Day 191 - Finnish Magic

Shakespeare is always up for a shoutout to parts partly unknown (see the coast of breast implants). In The Comedy of Errors, Bill gives a nod to his northern neighbors who apparently have quite the reputation:

               Sure these are but imaginary wiles,
               And Lapland sorcerers inhabit here.

Follow-up googling has led to no satisfactory explanations of what the bard had in mind concerning Finnish magic, though sources assure me that English literature is rife with vague references to the still (in the 17th century) unconverted peoples of Finland, but I did find this great walrus hunting picture:

Sigh No More