Monday, February 19, 2007

A local habitation and a name

A couple of years ago I found a complete set of Yale Shakespeare for $5.00 at a firehall sale. Each play in its own small, hardbound volume -- score of the day!

My son Ish used them for a Shakespeare course at UD. Otherwise, they've been waiting for me to find the time and inclination to crack them open. I had a vague idea of reading through the plays chronologically, although that might turn out like trying to read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation -- a method that bogs you down through the minor parts.

Meanwhile, the lit anthology I'm browsing has a section of excerpts from the plays. Kind of a "best of" instead of one complete play as is usual. Today's morning reading is from A Midsummer-Night's Dream:

Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman; the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

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