Skip to main content

Citing Scriptures: Everything That Is, Has Been Before

I was reading Ecclesiastes the other day, and found the verse that I was looking for - the one that I was reminded of when I read Sonnet 59. 

It's Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10 (KJV).
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.
Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
 But Shakespeare's Sonnet 59 is a (not so) subtle refutation to the verses' argument that the world repeats itself. Here's what the Bard says about his friend.
If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguil'd,
Which, labouring for invention, bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child!
O, that record could with a backward look,
Even of five hundred courses of the sun,
Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done!
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;
Whether we are mended, or whe'r better they,
Or whether revolution be the same.
O! sure I am, the wits of former days
To subjects worse have given admiring praise.
He argues that even if there had been praises for beauties in the old times, they must have been given to beauties inferior than his friend. Meaning: his friend's beauty 'has not been before'. Tricky Bard.

Duh.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Problems with Translating Shakespeare

I've found several articles regarding this on the net. I'm new to the Shakespeare world, therefore I didn't know much about the translation issue.

In the net, there are "study guides" for Shakespeare, such as No Fear Shakespeare which provides students with modern English translation of William Shakespeare. I bet students will find it highly useful, especially those who are not well-acquainted with plays or old classical literatures or writings in verse. Apart from that, I am also aware that there are modern English editions of Shakespeare available in book stores. (I know that accidentally, because I found some quotes on Goodreads which convey Shakespeare's ideas but not in his exact words.)

On the other hand, there are people like David Crystal, which I highly respect (truly I love everything he says about Shakespeare's words and also original pronunciation), who insists that no translation is needed in understanding Shakespeare. There is even a debate …

Henry V: Self-Punishment on the Death of Bardolph

Prince Hal, and later, the king, Henry V is a complex character with volumes to think, say, and analyse about. Following his character development from Henry IV part 1 through Henry V, it's hard not to relate to him when one comes to what people call 'conflict of interests.'

For me, the worst part of it in Henry V is when he heard that his (former) friend, Bardolph, had been executed for thievery. In many productions, the directors let Henry either see the execution, or at least the hanged man. Kenneth Branagh and Hollow Crown versions even take time for a little flashback, therefore show us that the king remembered Bardolph and all things they had done together in their former days. Both also, through acting, show that the king was sad about it, yet could do nothing.

Reading the play, however, it was quite shocking that the king made no comment upon the hanging, except that it was just and necessary.

Why didn't he say anything about it? Knowing Shakespeare, he could h…

Reasons Why I Dislike Falstaff

I understand well enough that Falstaff is a funny comic character, that he provides more jokes than any other character in whole Shakespeare's canon except Hamlet, if those gloomy jokes are still counted as jokes. I also understand how he's an important character because he promotes the view so different than those considered as virtuous in his era. Nevertheless, I never consider him as a likeable character, no matter how much I laugh on him in the two Henry IV plays.

It's just that he's such a bad friend to Prince Hal. And my term "bad friend" means neither "a friend who robs and steals and pickpockets every once in a while" nor "an indifferently good man who doesn't really care about you" which would make him a good acquaintance. No. He takes both the negatives and combines them. Let me show you why I can't like this man despite all his witty lines.

1. He's a bad association to Hal Like this one is not obvious enough(!). I m…