When you get stuck, just write like Bill Shakespeare

thy sweet love remembered


Think of the words you can recite by memory, passages always hovering in the recesses of your mind, waiting to manifest themselves when the moment is right.

Each person has her anthology of these sentences, or verses, or paragraphs.  Some memorize passages of scripture from a book they deem holy, others remember lines of poetry they were forced to recite in school, others still recall a line of dialogue from a movie.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

“Never trusted happiness, never will,” Robert Duvall’s character said to his wife in Tender Mercies as he worked in his garden and thought of his daughter taken too young in an automobile accident.

Such is the power of words.

But when it comes to memorable passages, I doubt that in the English language there is anyone who is a contender with William Shakespeare.

“Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

“To be or not to be, that is the question.”

“All the world’s a stage..”

I don’t know why the words of Shakespeare stick in our minds as if by magic.  I only know that they do. And I don’t know why the words of other great writers may move us, yet not fasten themselves to our souls.  I may return to my favorite novels, but I don’t commit the language to memory.

Shakespeare 29

One of my favorite Shakespeare passages is Sonnet XXIX.  Enjoy it with me.

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
       For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
In these occasional pieces, we focus on style, that elusive quality of writing that sets it apart, places the author’s stamp on it, makes it unique.  In the works of Shakespeare, we find style that reaches into our hearts, eliminates the distance between words and emotion, brings us home.
What a memorable gift.

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