Loves Labors lost

What if Shakespeare…LIVE-TWEETED WRITING HIS FIRST SONNET?

In honour of our upcoming Sonnets by Kids event – the most adorable Valentine’s idea of all time! – let’s imagine that Shakespeare was trying to preserve every moment of his creative process for the ages.

(NB: The Dark Lady is the name we give to the anonymous woman who inspired many of Shakespeare’s sonnets; Christopher Marlowe was Shakespeare’s only plausible rival among the Elizabethan playwrights, who died too young to reach his full potential. Anne Hathaway (!) was Shakespeare’s wife who lived far from London.)

Shakespeare Twitter

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DarkLady: @WillShakes Truly, I would the gods had made thee poetical. (1) #BoredofAvon

WillShakes: @DarkLady I do not know what ‘poetical’ is. Is it honest in deed and word? Is it a true thing? (2)

DarkLady: @MarloweFabulous @WillShakes D: What’s here? the portrait of a blinking idiot, Presenting me a schedule!  (3)

MarloweFabulous: @DarkLady @WillShakes virginity is peevish, proud, idle, made of self-love, which is the most inhibited sin in the canon. (4) #getoveryself

WillShakes: @DarkLady Assist me, some extemporal god of rhyme, for I am sure I shall turn sonnet. Devise, wit; write, pen! (5) #WritingUSonnets

DarkLady: I’ll believe as soon This whole earth may be bored. (6)

WillShakes: @DarkLady “From fairest creatures we desire increase, / That thereby beauty’s rose might never…” (7) — melt? break? fry? #wordchoicelesigh

WillShakes: Oh – die! “rose might never die” (should not have been so hard 😦 oh well)

WillShakes: (I have heard a sonnet begin so to one’s mistress.) (8) So it’s all about ‘we want more of you!’ 🙂

DarkLady: If thou say so, villain, Thou kill’st thy mistress. (9) Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting! (10)

WillShakes: @DarkLady “But as the riper should by time decease, / His tender heir might bear his memory.”  (11) Better?

WillShakes: My sister wants me to talk about the “marriage of true minds” (12) – guess she missed mine. #hathawayfollies

MarloweFabulous: @WillShakes Thy marriage, sooner than thy wickedness. (13)

WillShakes: @MarloweFabulous You’re shallow, madam, in great friends; for the knaves come to do that for me which I am aweary of. (14) ;P

DarkLady: @WillShakes If you’re going to write this stop interrupting and explain what you mean, this is pretty abstract 😡

WillShakes: AAAGGHHH BACK TO WORK TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY THIS IS TITUS ALL OVER AGAIN #betterin1590

WillShakes: Where were we again – wait – hang on – ok, here we go, on a roll, just gonna post these as I get ’em:

WillShakes: @DarkLady “From fairest creatures we desire increase, / That thereby beauty’s rose might never die”(15) = there should always be more you!

WillShakes: @DarkLady “But as the riper should by time decease, / His tender heir might bear his memory.” (16) = it’s okay, you’ll have cute babies!

WillShakes: @DarkLady “But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes, / Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,” (17) = oh no, you’re too vain to think about kids!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Making a famine where abundance lies, / Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:” (18) = that means you might leave the world w/o your looks!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament, And only herald to the gaudy spring,” (19) = honestly lady, you’re life & beauty incarnate!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Within thine own bud buriest thy content, And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:” (20) = so don’t ‘save yourself’ – there’s enough win for everyone!

WillShakes: @DarkLady”Pity the world, or else this glutton be, / To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.” (21) = better have kids or you’ll have wasted PERFECT GENES ;P

DarkLady: @WillShakes …It shall suffice, sir. (22) ;3  So rude, but so funny! It’s you all over, really.

DarkLady: @WillShakes I probably should get on the kids thing, considering my super-secret identity (you know)…usual time? 😉

WillShakes: I need to write more of these; so much easier than a whole play! #moneyfornothing

LizziesaurusRex: @WillShakes And that would set my teeth nothing on edge, Nothing so much as mincing poetry (23) – keep writing plays. Not a request.

WillShakes: @Lizziesaurus Rex My precious queen, forebear. (24) Side project it is. I’ll give it a title later. Maybe ‘The Alpha Sonnet’? Eh, just ‘Sonnet 1’ for now.

 

(Shakespeare rearranged/interpolated/mangled by David)

Sources:

(1) Touchstone, As You Like It (III.iii.1517)

(2) Audrey, As You Like It (III.iii.1518-19)

(3) Prince of Aragon, The Merchant of Venice (II.ix.1184-5)

(4) Parolles, All’s Well That Ends Well (I.i.146-8)

(5) Don Adriano, Love’s Labor’s Lost (I.ii.479-81)

(6) Hermia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (III.ii.1085-8)

(7) Sonnet 1

(8) Duke of Orleans, Henry VIII (III.vii.1681)

(9) Cleopatra, Antony and Cleopatra, (IV.iii.1082-3)

(10) Biron, Love’s Labor’s Lost (IV.iii.1489-90)

(11) Sonnet 1

(12) Sonnet 116

(13) Countess, As You Like It (I.iii.358)

(14) Clown, All’s Well That Ends Well (I.iii.362-3)

(15) Sonnet 1

(16) Sonnet 1

(17) Sonnet 1

(18) Sonnet 1

(19) Sonnet 1

(20) Sonnet 1

(21) Sonnet 1

(22) Francis Feeble, Henry IV Part 2 (III.ii.2021)

(23) Hotspur, Henry IV Part 1 (III.1.1677-9)

(24) Antony, Antony and Cleopatra (I.iii.382)

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Wordy Wednesday – “I marvel thy master”

I was in a humour the other day – shall I go as far to say in a disposition fitting our dear Prince of Denmark? And in attempts to divert myself, I decided to remove myself from the world for a few hours and read Love’s Labour’s Lost. What a feast of words this play is! The tripping speeches, the punning jests, the satire of academia: it is marvelously comic.

And there is one word that always gets me, that stops my reading cold as I trip over it time and time again. If you are familiar with the play you know the one I mean.

COSTARD:

I marvel thy master hath not eaten thee for a word;
for thou art not so long by the head as
honorificabilitudinitatibus: thou art easier
swallowed than a flap-dragon. (V.i)

Of course I am referring to the word “flap-dragon.” Originally “flap-dragon” was a game in which players “catch raisins out of burning brandy and, extinguishing them by closing the mouth, eat them” (OED). Shakespeare is reportedly the first to turn this into a noun, signifying the flaming raisin itself. in these lines, Costard is saying to Moth that because he is so small he is easier to swallow than a flaming raisin.

So the next time you are asked to do something difficult, respond: “it would be easier to swallow a flap-dragon.”

What? Oh yes, I suppose I should give a nod to honorificabilitudinitatibus. It comes to us through Latin and roughly translates to “a state to be able to receive honours.” it is here used in an absurd form (the dative/ablative plural portmanteau for those playing the Latin game) for the purpose of comedy. It is meant to sound ridiculous and it does. Oddly enough, it became fairly popular following the first appearance of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Honorificabilitudinitatibus is also the longest word that appears in an English text that does not have consecutively repeating letters. Knowing this makes you in honorificabilitudinitatibus – but saying you are such is probably harder to swallow than a flap-dragon.

And if, good reader, you are in the mood for a linguistic feast look no further than Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Valeo amici!

Alex