Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to the Bard

...We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

~ The Tempest, Act IV, Scene I

William Shakespeare is, in my opinion, the greatest writer in the English language. He is quite possibly the greatest writer ever, in any language. But, as the Bard himself admonished us, "the play's the thing" (Hamlet II:ii). In other words, don't spend time worrying about whether or not he really wrote the plays--just enjoy them.

One of the myriad interesting facts about Shakespeare is that he was baptized on April 26, 1564, and died on April 23 fifty-two years later, in 1616. A custom of the time was to baptize babies within a few days of their birth. Quite possibly, William Shakespeare died on the actual anniversary of this birth, a fact which would make his lifetime truly "rounded with a sleep."

Although it didn't quite work out for him in life, Shakespeare has enjoyed an unending run after his death. As he might have described his durable popularity into our modern age, "a light heart lives long." Happy 466th Birthday to the Bard.