It’s the 396th anniversary since Shakespeare’s passing so today shall be spent being dramatic and talking like a Shakespearian Elizabethan. It also falls on the same day as St. George’s Day, which many of us know is the ‘English’ saint but according to research scholars the story of George and The Dragon goes back to Scandinavian folklore -we are an island in the midst of the French to the south, the Danes to the east, Germania to the south east and the Nordic peoples of the north so it’s no surprise that they’d often jump inside their war ships and venture to our shores.
Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
(Antony and Cleopatra, 2.5.1-2)
I’ve never celebrated St. George’s Day but I’d jump at the chance to honour Saint Shakespeare’s Day because this guy created the modern English language through creative writing, if that’s not someone who is an example of a creative writing wizard who can be aligned to the likes of Homer and Muhammad [Allah forgive me in this context] then I don’t know what you deem as an aspiration of creative writing prowess. Shakespeare laid the foundations for a beautiful language by writing plays, poetry, and interpreting history for the stage, by doing so, he not only displayed languages versatility but he also provided us with a demonstration on how language could be used and how we can use it to express ourselves. Before Shakespeare I can only guess the people of England were split between French -in the higher classes and nobility- and what we now know as English in the lower classes -an amalgamation of West Germanic, Anglo-Frisian and Old Saxon Dialects brought to Britain by settlers from Germany, Denmark and The Netherlands, acrolect Latin -acrolect meaning the most prestigious part or variety of a particular dialect/language, and Celtic language Brythonic -thought to be the native language of Britain in the time of Roman occupation.
I say celebrate Shakespeare because he brought language to the masses, he united all Elizabethan class, race and culture under one open top roof, -aptly named- The Globe Theatre, where all could understand and learn a new language being acted out. I’d say a trip to the theatre was more of a language lesson on how to ‘speaketh’ this new language rather that watch a play, The Globe was also somewhere people unconsciously learnt about contexts of the words, how wide a variety one could use one word or many for the same meaning, entendre, puns, similies [ecetera], Shakespeare revised the rules on self expression…
- So I say this and this only, why do English citizens continue to honour George when we have a patron saint who kick started the English language, who made it most versatile, poetic and beautiful?
- Why don’t we honour Shakespeare with a public holiday or at the very least acknowledgement on calendars?
- Why isn’t Shakespeare honoured with a place on the Google homepage?
The answers are pretty simple, Shakespeare died on the same day that we celebrate St. George’s Day so unless we politely acknowledge that two great examples of fearless and intellectual Englishmen share the same day, we may forget what Shakespeare did for the hearts, minds, creativity and communication strength of the English people. Imagine if there were no Shakespeare, we’d probably be doing business in French -with all it’s poetic airy fairy romanticism or Chinese -with it’s bluntness and straight to the point nature where there’s no room to dance in it’s beautiful complex or simple intricacy. We need to give respect where it’s due, and Shakespeare deserves so much more than most, if not with a sainthood at least with calendar recognition -where there is space of course so we don’t upset the lovers of the Dragon slayer.
- Monday Declared Talk Like Shakespeare Day (chicago.cbslocal.com)
- 37 Shakespeare Works Performed in 37 Languages Over Six Weeks (italianenglishblog.wordpress.com)
- Letters: Oiling the wheels of the Shakespeare festival (bfreenews.com)
- English should be as proud of their nationality as the Scots are of theirs, says Hilary Benn on St George’s Day (telegraph.co.uk)
- April 23 1564 and 1616 Birth and Death of William Shakespeare (chinadailymail.com)
- Hamlet: The play Stalin hated (bbc.co.uk)
- Shakespeare’s Dark Lady (womenlove2read.wordpress.com)
- It will soon be St George’s Day (charioteers.org)
- On the Occasion of Mr Shakespeare’s Birthday – or – Me and Will (actorsgreenroom.net)
- Maori Shakespeare kicks off with haka (bbc.co.uk)
- The Bard’s bash goes global (csmonitor.com)