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17 January 2010

Not sure why in the middle of winter I would decide to read something with summer in it's title, other than to warm me.   Of course A Midsummer  Night's Dream has little to do with summer, but much to do with merriment.   The opening lines always bring a smile: 
(Theseus) Now fair Hippolyta, our nuptial hour
draws on apace; four happy days bring in
Another moon:  but, O, methinks, how slow
This old moon wanes! she lingers my desires,
Like to a step-dame, or a dowager,
Long withering out a youn man's revenue.

(Hippolyta) Four days will quickly steep themselves in night'
Four nights will quickly dream away the time;
And then the moon, like to a silver bow
New-bent in heaven, shall behold the night
Of our solemnities.

   (Theseus) Go, Philostrate,
Stir up the Athenian youth to merriments;
Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth:
Turn melancholy forth to funerals;
The pale companion is not for our pomp.
Hippolyata, I woo'd thee with my sword,
And won the love, doing thee injuries;
But i will wed thee in another key,
With pomp, with triumph and with revelling. 

The back & forth between Theseus and Hippolyta -- "It's four long days". "Four days is not long at all!" -- is the kind of repartee that occurs between each of the couples throughout the play and, while representative, is not at all the best example from the work. But, what merriment there is throughout for the audience. It is fun to read (or re-read) this play -- in midwinter January or midsummer June. I could write lots about this play, but my purpose today was not to critique. Reading Shakespeare was such a burden when I was a student, but what a pleasure it is now to read for no other reason than the sheer joy of it.

2 comments:

dadwhowrites said...

I must read it again. Well chosen passages - 400 years and more and they still dance off the page.

Ted said...

Since I know you're an opera buff, there are 2 very different settings of it. One by Benjamin Britten and one by Purcell (The Fairy Queen) which might be enjoyable to accompany your reading!