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Milton, Shakespeare, and Me

Last Sunday night I had some fun at the expense of all the Shakespeare lovers in my church. I frankly confessed that the reading of him often puts me to sleep (which to Shakespeare lovers is like cussing in front of the parson). Oh, well. . .

In my attempt to culturefy myself this afternoon, I took to reading John Milton (1608 – 1674) while listening to Mozart. (This is the 250th musical season since his birth, you know.) To my everlasting shame, I fell upon John Milton’s tribute to Shakespeare which I here shareth with thee all.

On Shakespeare

What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones
The labor of an age in piled stones,
Or that his hallowed relics should be hid
Under a star-ypointing pyramid?
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a livelong monument.
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavoring art
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And so sepulchered in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

I know that John Milton didn’t mean it this way (he spoke of enchantment), but I do confess to having been made to “marble with too much conceiving” while reading Shakespeare.

(I hope no one leaves the church over this!)

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4 Responses

  1. harumph!

  2. Pastor;
    I can relate to you on this subject. In my high school senior year English class I wrote a term paper on Shakespeare being a fake. My English teacher was in love with Shakespeare. She read my term paper to each of her classes and then spent the remainder of the period disecting, chewing, spitting, and ripping my paper and me up. By the way, I also got kicked out her class. I was pleased to see a news article about two weeks ago about someone who just published a work on Shakespeare being a fake. So, Pastor where should we go when we both get booted out the door Wednesday night?

    Steve Johnson

  3. Bob, I was shocked to read your comments, considering your aparent love for artistic beauty and masterful communication of truth.

    Are you implying that Milton agreed that Shakespeare was boring?

  4. Scott,

    Milton obviously LOVED Shakespeare. I was tongue-in-cheek blushing in shame under his scathing rebuke!

    Steve,

    We’ll start “Regular Guy Baptist Church!”

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