Sunday, April 29, 2007

If we all talked Shakespeare

I just found out about a column published in honor of Shakespeare's birthday in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: We can’t all be Shakespeare — but we could try to be. Author: Joe Muldoon. Also published in his blog at Thoughts upon the Bard's Birthday. Also discussed on NPR and in the blog polyglot conspiracy in Shakespeare would text.

Well, Mr. Muldoon showed us what would happen if we constantly quoted Shakespeare instead of trying to think up new ways to say things. He demonstrated that this approach would be fine as long as there was a famous quote to fit whatever was going on. I suspect that we'd all be pretty quickly bored from nothing new, even if the quotes express a past thought much better than we can speak for ourselves. All his examples are the most overused Shakespeare quotations anyway -- he didn't seem to bother to read even one play to look for a new idea!

Here's how the article ends, a passage that I think illustrates my point:

And then -- the finale! One day, bewildered by senescence or stoked to the brim on pain pills, I will rampage out the door of the nursing home to weave among the semis on I-94. In a snowstorm. It's got to be a snowstorm.

As a mighty Peterbilt juggernaut bears down, the driver will hear my defiant challenge: "Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes . ... "

Said driver surely will stop and scurry to my side. As life seeps from my poor body, she will pull a tarp off the flatbed and -- ye gods, let it be so! -- be reminded of something she heard in English class long ago. (Though she'll as likely have a Ph.D. in literature.)

With snow swirling about, she will whisper ever so gently, "Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

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