Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!w-shakespeare-herald-1465553036Osl
You’re 449 years old today. Actually, you’re immortal, because few single writers have more greatly impacted literature throughout the
course of human history than you. It’s a good thing you’re dead, because this information would probably go to your head.

You might have figured on leaving a legacy, since you re-created and dominated the modern dramatic culture in England during your lifetime. Centuries later, your keen understanding of human nature and society continue to exist unchallenged. Your baudy wit, tender romance, and dramatic introspection appeal to audiences as much today as they did in the Globe Theatre centuries ago. With the ability to capture the emotions of royalty and
“groundlings” w-shakespeare-mercucio-1465554584DKialike, your words transcend class distinction, unhampered by either affluence or illiteracy. Today your influence continues to appeal to readers, theater-goers, and movie-watchers (this genre would blow your mind!) from all walks of life.

Second only to the Bible, your words have become commonplace phraseology.  I never get tired of reading Julius Caesar, Macbeth, or Romeo and Juliet. I am always overtaken by a curious quickening of the heart and regular chuckling; I longingly re-read the tender passages and marvel over the genius of your rhyme, rhythm, and content. And then there’s the w-shakespeare-juliet-1465553425CL0sheer volume of your work–37 completed plays, 8 more co-written, and 154 sonnets. And it’s  poetry. For most of us, an 8-line jingle is challenge enough.

Just for kicks, here’s a list of your famous short quotations below that even a non-fan has probably heard or spoken:

“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”–Sonnet 18

“To be, or not to be, that is the question.”–Hamlet

“Though this be madness, there is method in it.”–Hamlet (Modern paraphrase: “There’s a method to my madness.”)

“All thew-shakespeare-jester-14655532950Xy world’s a play, and all the men and women merely players.”—As You Like It

“Can one desire too much of a good thing?”—As You Like It

“A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”—Richard III

“Off with his head!”—Richard III

“O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”—Romeo and Juliet

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”– Romeo and Juliet

“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”– Romeo and Juliet

“O! She doth teach the torches to burn bright.”—Romeo and Juliet

“But love is blind, and lovers cannot see.”—The Merchant of Venice

“He hath eaten me out of house and home.”–Henry IV

w-shakespeare-montecci-1465554792x6M“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers”–Henry V

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears.”—Julius Caesar

“Et tu, Brute!”– Julius Caesar

“Beware the Ides of March!”– Julius Caesar

“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”– Julius Caesar

“What’s done is done.”—Macbeth

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair.”—Macbeth

“Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”—Macbeth

“Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that stuts and frets his hour upon the stage.”—Macbeth

“I have not slept one wink.”—Cymbeline

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”—A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Out of the jaws of death”—Taming of the Shrew

So Happy Birthday, Shakespeare! I honor you, as any lover of literature should. “For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech to stir men’s blood; I only speak right on.” (Julius Caesar, III, ii, 218-220)

images from Erica B

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