Tuesday, June 30, 2009

'Chasing the Sun", oil on linen, by Roxanne Steed

In the last few days, I’ve been rereading Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and thoroughly enjoying it. It has brought to mind, again, the startling fact that I could spend the rest of my life reading only Shakespeare, and never feel dissatisfied or wanting. Somehow, in a manner totally beyond my understanding, Shakespeare was able, 400 years ago, to capture in 30+ plays all the beauty and power of life. Nothing written since then comes even close to matching the elegance and energy I find in his plays. What is especially intriguing to me is the fact that I find total economy present side-by-side with power and loveliness. He wastes no words. Nothing seems to be overdone. Each word is useful and necessary, and each line of poetry carries exactly the weight that it should carry. This is especially interesting to me, living, as I do, in an age when superfluity and extravagance seem to abound in writing (and everything else). Shakespeare was a frugal writer. He understood the beauty of brevity, something we moderns seem to have lost sight of.

I also realized, again, that many Shakespeare plays are rather easily accessible to eighth and ninth grade scholars. For instance, Julius Caesar is a play filled with the kinds of strains and tensions that teenagers constantly feel. Not only that, Shakespeare’s language in this play, though 400 years old, would be remarkably easy for my scholars to understand. As I was reading the lines aloud this morning, I could see in my mind the faces of my scholars next September as they listen to the feelings in the words and sense the power of Shakespeare’s themes. This play, in many ways, could grip them as well as the best beach novel.

1 comment:

Roxanne Steed said...

Thanks for the link! My google-mail failed & in trying to find it, found myself here instead! ...funny how that works- serendipity!
Cheers, Roxanne