Tag Archives: william shakespeare

fee-fi-fo-fum, fee fi-fo-fum

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The owl hooted on the oak,

The crow cried in the dark;

Dogs howled on the hills,

Cats purred in the bushes;

The Night was ripe and ready.

 

Fee-fi-fo-fum, Fee-fi-fo-fum,

The Three Witches began to hum

Standing in the grim gray garbs

With the gray eyes glaring in silence

They were ready to tell his destiny.

 

“Scotland, the jewel of thy crown,

The sword calls for thy title to own,

The blood is thy sacred power,

As it runs redder and deeper.”

Thus, the prophecy of his fate’s cast in

 Fee-fi-fo-fum, Fee-fi-fo-fum, Fee-fi-fo-fum!

 

P.S.: This week’s #FairyTuesday theme on Twitter liberally encompasses witches, ghosts, and other supernatural beings, so my choice is the Graeae, the Three Sisters personifying the Fate of Man in the ancient Greek mythology. They had only one eye and a tooth to share, but the pre-Herculean Mycenan hero Perseus intercepted the eye when the Sisters fumbled with it in the air and forced them to answer the whereabouts of Medusa. They ultimately relented to the demand, whereupon Perseus set about killing Medusa. 

This image of the Three Sisters is then also wondrously associated with the Three Witches of Shakespeare’s Macbeth by the sheer dint of the somber, dismal greyness of the three uncanny women. But as Mcbeth was a tragic figure consumed by guilt and greed, so were the Three Witches, malevolent and dystopian, vis a vis the somewhat faltering and fumbling Grey Sisters menaced by Perseus bullying them to elicit what he wanted to know. 

This poem, however, is more of Macbeth’s Three Witches leading him to perdition because the grim image of the witches conjured up by Shakespeare is terrifically atmospheric and dismally spell-bounding without the pageantry of words and expressions. 

 

universal man: ‘Ben Jonson: A Life’, by Ian Donaldson – review

Ben Jonson: A LifeBen Jonson: A Life by Ian Donaldson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always been drawn into a writer whose noble ambition and unswerving individuality are distinct from those of the officialized popularity of famed celebrities simply because of the sheer provocativeness of the author translated into the textual world of reality, which is a reflection of his conceptions by the barrier he establishes proudly and profoundly against those of others. In fact, it is this unapologetic individuality that enables the author to become what he is capable of in protean varieties; an alchemist of words, a high priest of the temple of Apollo, a mortal equivalent of Hercules, a neo-classist of a new renaissance, an independent scholar of the great leaning, and a humanist committed to the Classical principles to contribute to the new capital of the Arts. The hero of the splendid epithets is no less the poet and playwright than Ben Jonson himself, and it is in this superbly told biography Ben Jonson: A Life that his modern disciple Ian Donaldson resurrects the person of Jonson in flesh and spirit vividly.

Ian Donaldson’s Ben Jonson begins with the burial ground of Jonson and then comes alive as Donaldson presents the protagonist Jonson through a phantasmagorical display of the epochal chapters of Jonson’s life as though to be screened for posterity in Immortal Theater of Art. Donaldson’s capacity of screenwriter and director of Ben Jonson’s dramatic life is deprived of blind idolization of Jonson as a suffering lone wolf-typed writer whose brightness was unfairly adumbrated by that of his contemporary peer William Shakespeare, nor is it intent upon accounting the greatness of Jonson over Shakespeare by elucidating the dichotomic feud between the two equally but differently brilliant literary stars in the constellation of Arts. Also, the book rejects the conventional mode of biography in the frame of “cradle to grave” by guiding the reader through specific epochal moments that profoundly influenced Jonson both personally and professionally during one of the most politically and religiously turbulent periods in the history of Great Britain.

Rich in details of the political and social backgrounds of Jonson’s plays and poems in addition to his personal elements that make him stand out among the contemporary literary figures, Donaldson follows the Thucydidean way of examining the history of Jonson in attempt to transcend the subjectivity of the time and popular opinions on the subject and to balance scholarly objective equilibrium to test the validity of truth about the subject matter to the extent possible by holding his express personal opinion thereon. The result is myriad imaginations and images of Jonson as the reader likes to create, whether it be that of dauntlessly confident Achilles, wisely ambitious Agamemnon, divinely valorous Odysseus, or compassionately passionate Hercules.

Upon reading this book, I saw the images of Rodrigo Mendoza played by Robert De Niro from the excellent film “The Mission” and Ben Jonson as himself springing from my mind’s garden as both of their faces a piece like a great Ancient Greek statue. Both of them are passionately devoted to their causes, unfailingly humane, and admirably courageous in fulfilling their destiny to achieve their noble ambitions for the good of humanity – one for the building of terrestrial heaven governed by deeds according to the Gospel in the case of Fr. Mendoza and the other in the person of Jonson for the reconstruction of British Renaissance based upon classical principles as a stratagem of moral and artistic reform. And behind this fascinating literary witchcraft lays Donaldson’s superb biography of Ben Jonson that successfully resurrects the noble and heroic spirit of his literary Hero whose work is enshrined in the Temple of Divine Arts as a scintillating star of the Humanities. And I am sure that Jonson is so happy with Donaldson’s account of his life that he introduces his biographer to the Immortals (including his chum Shakespeare) and that they are having a divine feast with heavenly wine in a constellation of literary stars evermore.

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on Shakespeare’s Birthday

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Brilliant as the star that danced

And sparkled in the Milky Way,

The Wit that Nature crowned

The Bard with a Laurel of Poetry

Adorned him with Great Glory.

 

P.S.: Today is Shakespeare’s birthday, and I feel somehow responsible for writing about it to commemorate it as a continuing Student of Art and Dabbler of Wordcraft. What I love about the Bard is that he wasn’t classically educated and that he was something of an autodidactic artist whose natural light of wit and way with words made him all the more attractive and approachable. The image of a gigantic literary figure that we usually associate with Will is a Victorian invention of the grandiose grandeur of English literature undefiled. If Geoffrey Chaucer prioritized the English language, Shakespeare popularized it. Hence my eternal Kudo to the Brilliant Bard. 

Where is his library?

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Library of the Bard is in a fairy hide beneath the visiting moon

Beyond an evanescent slice of the seacoast between tides in rhythm,

Down below the deepening foliage between field and forest,

High above the sloping land between plain and mountain yonder

Where Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits are librarians of wonder

Among the unknown writs of mortals of the universe

Beyond the boundary of time and space and race,

Keep a single book of the Bard with the imprimatur

Of literary workaday Johannes Factotum

On the seventh floor of the Library of Babel

Girding the constellation of stars studded over

Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb.

Author’s Note: I listened to an excellent podcast interview with Stuart Kells, author of Shakespeare’s library, and agreed with him about a possibility that a single book authored by William Shakespeare will someday materialize from an unknown arcane volume of various writings of others in an unexpected place. Things can happen. Hence this poem from my mind’s view on Shakespeare’s Library.