Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shakespeare for your Sweetie

The Winona Daily News (our local five-page scandal sheet and sports chronicle) had an article today about a Valentine's Day service that young (or old) lovers can hire in order to impress their sweethearts on Valentine's Day:  for a modest fee, an actor from the Great River Shakespeare Festival--obviously unemployed at this time of year--will come to your sweetie's residence and recite for him or her one of Shakespeare's "sublime"  love sonnets.

As a money-making scheme, it's not a bad idea, really.  The Great River Shakespeare Festival operates only during the summer months, so goodness knows how the actors support themselves during snow season.  (I keep getting letters requesting contributions, but I'm quite sure that my widow's mites are not keeping many pantries stocked.)

As usual, though, I was amused by the sappy and uninformed adulation accorded the Sonnets--not because anybody has ever read more than four or five of them--but because they were written by "The Bard."  Shakespeare, like a few other "divinities" (Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, Beethoven, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, General Motors, CitiBank), is just "too big to fail."

Knock down any of these pillars of culture or credit and, poof, the whole edifice of human civilization will, presumably, come crumbling down.

Hee, hee.  Well, I can tell you this:  Shakespeare, despite all of his unquestionable linguistic prowess, was a shamefully careless grammarian (you can find dangling participles and misplaced modifiers on almost any page); he didn't give a damn about plot logic (the whole denouement of Hamlet is a ridiculous serious of accidents); and his puns--oh God, they are such groaners!

He could have used a nice combover, too, eh?

From my point of view, though, the best joke is that Shakespeare's "sublime" love poetry was, for the most part (126 sonnets out of 154) addressed to a "fair youth", Mr. W. H.--the Bard's "master-mistress."  In other words, these are poems expressing homosexual feelings--and all the hand-wringing by critics over the years cannot change that fact.  Oh dear. Oh dear.  There goes civilization.  And how would a red-blooded straight dude from Winona, MN, react if somebody (such as the Winona Daily News) told him the truth--that the kinda "poofty" actor from the Great River Shakespeare Festival was reciting a homoerotic poem to the straight dude's opposite-sex lover or marriage partner (for more complete information on "opposite marriage", see Carrie Prejean's interview with Larry King). Well, THAT was good money wasted!  Now the straight dude will have to do something manly to prove that he isn't a fag like fancy nancy Shakespeare. Can't watch football tonight--gotta get it up!

And another thing that's fun and funny:  as anyone who's actually read them knows, a whole bunch of these so-called love poems are intended less to celebrate the beloved than they are to brag about Shakespeare's remarkable skill as a poet.  Ever-popular Sonnet 18, "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day,"  is a good example. Yes, this poem does say some nice things about the fair youth.  But essentially, the main message is:  I'm such a damned good writer that I can make you immortal just by talking about you in my poem.

I once wrote a parody of Sonnet 18--in approximate Southern California Surfer Dude dialect.  Here it is.  As long as this blog lives, so will my  beloved Surfer Dude.

Sonnet Numbre 18, to Mr. S. D. (Surfer Dude)
        by Kenethe Kerkabee

I could compare you to a summer's day;
But you're a whole lot cooler dude I think.
The wind shakes up the gnarly curls of May
And summer's ripped before you even blink!

Sometimes the sun's, like, really really hot,
And then again the smog gets pretty bad;
So beauty fades, like skuzzy jungle rot;
'Cause that's the way things are:  it's oh so sad.

But you won't meet this double bagger fate:
You won't need Botox just to keep your glow;
You'll never meet St. Peter at his gate,
'Cause this poem everyone will get to know.

        So long as Hallmark prints and eyes can see,
        You'll keep on stylin' in these lines by me.

OK, sweetie, even if these lines don't live very long, it's been a real trip hangin' out with you.  Cowabunga and Happy Valentine's Day.

P.S.  EWTN, the Catholic cable channel, is broadcasting a program entitled "Quest for Shakespeare"--whose sole purpose, apparently, is to uncover evidence that the great bard was, in fact, a secret Catholic.  In light of the pretty solid evidence that he was also a secret (or not so secret) homosexual/bisexual, the Catholics might want to reconsider their claim to such a--how did Benedict XVI so delicately put it?--"disordered" individual...

If a pillar falls in an unread blog, does this have any effect on anyone?

No comments:

Post a Comment