Poem – When I Do Count The Clock That Tells The Time – William Shakespeare

Sonnet 12: 

When I do count the clock that tells the time, 

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night; 

When I behold the violet past prime, 

And sable curls all silvered o’er with white; 

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves 

Which erst from heat did canopy the herd, 

And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves 

Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, 

Then of thy beauty do I question make 

That thou among the wastes of time must go, 

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake 

And die as fast as they see others grow; 

And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence 

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

Poem – Juliet’s Soliloquy – William Shakespeare

 
Farewell!–God knows when we shall meet again. 

I have a faint cold fear thrills through my veins 

That almost freezes up the heat of life: 

I’ll call them back again to comfort me;– 

Nurse!–What should she do here? 

My dismal scene I needs must act alone.– 

Come, vial.– 

What if this mixture do not work at all? 

Shall I be married, then, to-morrow morning?– 

No, No!–this shall forbid it:–lie thou there.– 

What if it be a poison, which the friar 

Subtly hath minister’d to have me dead, 

Lest in this marriage he should be dishonour’d, 

Because he married me before to Romeo? 

I fear it is: and yet methinks it should not, 

For he hath still been tried a holy man:– 

I will not entertain so bad a thought.– 

How if, when I am laid into the tomb, 

I wake before the time that Romeo 

Come to redeem me? there’s a fearful point! 

Shall I not then be stifled in the vault, 

To whose foul mouth no healthsome air breathes in, 

And there die strangled ere my Romeo comes? 

Or, if I live, is it not very like 

The horrible conceit of death and night, 

Together with the terror of the place,– 

As in a vault, an ancient receptacle, 

Where, for this many hundred years, the bones 

Of all my buried ancestors are pack’d; 

Where bloody Tybalt, yet but green in earth, 

Lies festering in his shroud; where, as they say, 

At some hours in the night spirits resort;– 

Alack, alack, is it not like that I, 

So early waking,–what with loathsome smells, 

And shrieks like mandrakes torn out of the earth, 

That living mortals, hearing them, run mad;– 

O, if I wake, shall I not be distraught, 

Environed with all these hideous fears? 

And madly play with my forefathers’ joints? 

And pluck the mangled Tybalt from his shroud? 

And, in this rage, with some great kinsman’s bone, 

As with a club, dash out my desperate brains?– 

O, look! methinks I see my cousin’s ghost 

Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body 

Upon a rapier’s point:–stay, Tybalt, stay!– 

Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.

Observations on As You Like It  – William Shakespeare 

William Shakespeare 26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616

William Shakespeare
26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616


As You Like It will be for many of you a rather difficult play to appreciate and interpret simply on the basis of a reading. The reasons for this are not difficult to ascertain. The play is, as I have observed, a pastoral comedy, that is, a comedy which involves a traditional literary style of moving sophisticated urban courtiers out into the countryside, where they have to deal with life in a very different manner from that of the aristocratic court. This play, like others in the Pastoral tradition, freely departs from naturalism, and in As You Like It (certainly by comparison with the History plays) there is little attempt to maintain any consistently naturalistic style. 
This can create problems for readers unfamiliar with the conventions of pastoral, especially those who find it just too artificial and incredible to grasp imaginatively. After all, how are we to understand the unmotivated family hatreds which launch the action? We are simply not given any sufficiently detailed look at why Oliver hates Orlando (he himself does not understand the reason) or why Duke Frederick hates Duke Senior and turns on Rosalind so suddenly or, what is most surprising of all, why the nasty people whose animosities have given rise to the plot so suddenly and so conveniently convert and become nice people just in time to wind the plot up happily under the supervision of the goddess Hymen, the Greek deity of marriage, who arrives as an unexpected but welcome guest. 
But these features of the plot which we might find unconvincing if we demand naturalism (that is, if we insist on treating the play as a “Hence” story) are little more than standard plot devices in “And then” stories, common in a genre like pastoral, which makes no claims to naturalistic motivation. Such plotting serves to launch and to conclude the comic confusion. The main point of the play here, after all, is not the working out of a carefully constructed plot, but rather the various encounters which take place in the Forest of Ardenne. In fact, the structure of the play is less a carefully complex and unfolding plot than a series of conversations between characters who happen to run into each other amid the trees. 
You will notice, for example, that most of the central part of As You Like It consists of often random encounters between different characters in the forest. In many cases, they have no particular reason to talk to each other. What these serve to bring out is a series of conversations about life (and particularly about love) in which we witness different attitudes clashing. The effect is to take us through a variety of responses to shared concerns and to get us responding to our own sense of the appropriate ways to deal with experience. 
To put this another way. The pastoral style of As You Like It does not encourage a deep psychological approach to any of the characters, to the logic of their motivation. If that’s what we demand from a story to make it interesting, then this play is not going to satisfy us. We are not in that sort of a world. There is far more direct pressure on us to see in the interactions between characters the exploration of some themes, especially issues concerning love. That is not to say that the characters are not theatrically interesting and worth talking about; it is rather to insist that the characters here are serving thematic purposes more obviously than they are in more psychologically plausible plays. So there’s little point in seeking to penetrate deeply into the plausibility of the psychological motivation or of the coincidences. 

To take one obvious example of a thematic concern, very common in pastoral, we notice in the play a repeated contrast between court and country life. The purpose here is not to provide some naturalistic contrast, for the picture of life in the country is obviously idealized a good deal (although not totally, for there are references to the harsher aspects of life away from the comforts of the court and to the realities of working for an absentee landlord). Nor is the purpose any romantic celebration of the values of country living as somehow more authentic than city life. The pastoral is primarily a vehicle for a (usually) gentle satire on urban values, on some of the corrupting manners of the court (like flattery and excessive attention to clothes or fine language). And we can see this clearly enough in this play. But there is no sense in As You Like It that, given a free choice, any of the principal characters (except Jaques) would actually prefer to live in the country rather than the court. 

The other great difficulty with As You Like It for inexperienced readers is much of the humour. Here again, what makes little sense on the page (and doesn’t come across as very funny) generally works much better in a production. This point is generally true of all comedy, where the physicality of the human interaction (something not always readily apparent from the text of the play alone) is an essential key to understanding and responding to what is going on. That aspect of comedy, especially Shakespearean comedy, is one reason why, in the curriculum of this course, the comedies are underrepresented. The only quick way to overcome this problem is to focus on seeing the play in production and there’s a useful BBC video version available in the college library. 
 

When that I was and a little tiny boy – William Shakespeare

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
With hey, ho, . . .
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gate
For the rain, . . .

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, . . .
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain, . . .

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, . . .
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
For the rain, . . .

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, . . .
But that’s all one, our play is done.
And we’ll strive to please you every day.

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare