Joyce.E, Online English teacher at Acadsoc.
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Words. Letters bound together to convey ideas and messages. Poetry – the articulation of those words to paint pictures, bringing those messages to life. There is no set code for what deems a poem to be, but rather the evoking of emotion, thoughts, and imagination. Over the years we have come across many poets who have lived their days through spoken-word, undocumented and testament to the existence of higher powers. Poets have this innate ability to command attention, to be fierce but soft at the same time. Poets have been able to take the stars and the moon and placed them at our footsteps. With each rhyme, each set of alliteration, each metaphor, and each punctuation mark, they have been able to live beyond the years that have been set out for them. The beauty of poetry lies in the possibility of each poem being different for each person, defining different realities and imaginations. The irony exists in the fact that a poet will never admit to being a poet – the title is an honour that many writers do not believe to be worthy of. Every country has its own, each generation cultivates its own, but none is like the master or perceived founder of present language itself – William Shakespeare.
This gifted writer has managed to live on for centuries – deep within the hearts of philosophers, writers, and poets – in fact, everyone in between. Shakespeare’s influence has managed to last for so long because it has bridged the gap between the ‘then’ modernization of language and what we deem to be the history of language in our present times.
I have been through several musical poets on the blog as well, but I would still prefer the style of a sonnet. This is a review of his most prominent collection of work: The Sonnets of William Shakespeare.
William Shakespeare was an English man, but man is not honourable of a title to describe him. Born on the 26th of April 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. He is considered to be the greatest English writer of all time. He is often referred to as the national English poet and was dubbed as Bard Avon. The versatility that is Shakespeare the man emanates from the fact that he singlehandedly dominated the English language on all fronts, as a writer of plays, a dramatist, a poet, and an uncredited philosopher. Some of his greatest pieces include The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. These are all tragedies, something that Shakespeare perfected with such ease, and something considered to be a mirror of how he felt as a man, too busy to settle down and start a family, due to his dedication to his calling, something that some refer to as his destiny. When we look at the life of Shakespeare the man, we are confronted with the conundrum that all great men face: to live a simple life and remain in the hearts of those whom you love or to be great and live on forever in the hearts of men.
The beauty of Shakespeare’s work is that his sonnets were found at every single piece of work that he wrote. His addiction to such may cause some to be wary of his mental balance, but for purists, it just exemplifies the genius and discipline that was the man behind the pen and paper.
Having such a large body of work makes it difficult to choose just one to quote. Shakespeare’s catalogue is so vast that some are of the opinion that not all of his work has been found, or even deciphered. These are just one of his 154 sonnets that are widely known across the world:
Sonnet 8: Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
(The title: You are like music to hear, so why do you sound so sad?)
(Theme: Why is that we love things that make unhappy, that end up making us lose our harmonies?)
“Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: ‘Thou single wilt prove none.”
You’re like music to listen to, so why does listening to music make you sad?
Delightful and joyful things should complement one another.
So why do you love things that make you unhappy and enjoy things that are bad for you?
If music played well and in tune sounds bad to you,
it’s because that music is rebuking you for not playing your own part—
not making your own harmony—
by getting married and having children.
Notice how the sound of two strings vibrating together in harmony is like a father and child and happy mother,
who all sing one pleasing note together.
Though their music has no words,
the unity of their voices sings this warning to you: If you stay single, you’ll be a childless nobody.[i]
This poem is relevant to this day and translated, speaks to a greater problem that each of us experiences on a daily basis – loving what doesn’t love us, killing ourselves to give life to the “enemy”.
Raindrops along the Pavement
Wondering and pondering along the pavement
Raindrops are felt after a moment
It feels so endless
Hoping for an address
Where I will be relief
From this miserable distress
Oftentimes you’ll reach the point of sanity
Tried to contemplate things to get a better way
But vanity strikes and drops your rationality
Like it’s totally broke far along the Milky Way
It was torn again and hard to mend
It’s like a helpless life cycle in one’s head
How could such a miser feel?
And how could a miser wished to stop the spinning of the wheel