The Shakespearean queste

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? No, a summer’s day is not a bitch.”

Ah, the eternal words of Nick Miller from "New Girl" … and you know, Shakespeare.

My love affair with The Bard has its roots in my awkward middle school years---which I’m expecting to grow out of really any time now. But for all you plebeians (jk, no judgement), Shakespeare may tempt you to commit the unthinkable---Sparknotes. Shudder.

But fear not, worthy comrades! Before your attempts to conquer King Lear in Lit Hum or on stage, or to fumblingly text a special someone a 2 a.m. sonnet, I shall bequeath unto you the basics of getting into your Elizabethan groove.

In sonnet form. You’re welcome.

Furrow amongst thy belongings that surround

For items that, let's be honest, we all keep around

Corsets and petticoats, waistcoats and quills

Of Shakespeare's time with its multitude of thrills.


Dysentery, odors, scandals and plagues

The rules of hygiene, understand, were still quite vague

While that last, mayhap, is an exaggeration

’Twas the age, after all, of prepubescent fornication


A time of lofty words and poetic prose

Grandiose ideals, reduced, to eternal woes

A world of witches, magic, and prophecies a-plenty


Of love and of power that would kill thee by twenty

 Abandon, now, thy newfangled sensibilities, because

Give him a break, he was writing in like the 1570s.

Actually, Shakespeare was active as a writer from 1585 onwards. But what is accuracy in the face of the mighty rhyme scheme? Exactly---negligible.

Shakespeare’s language is admittedly not the most accessible at first glance, but his work genuinely does address the veritable range of human experiences and conflicts. Now, with the aid of my evident poetic genius, you should feel adequately prepared to tackle even the bleakest of his tragedies. To that end, be sure to check out this weekend the production of King Lear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music!

Spoiler alert: Some characters die.


King Lear at BAM Harvey Theater:

  • 2/8: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
  • 2/9: 3 p.m. Ending 2/9


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