April 23, the day we celebrate the birth of the Bard of Avon. Not surprisingly, we really don’t know when he was born, but he was baptized on April 26, 1564, so the date of the 23rd seems reasonable enough. Couple that with the fact that the 23rd is St. George’s Day, and that Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, it’s as good a day to mark his birth as any.
At right, we see the Chandos Portrait, generally believed to be of Shakespeare. But, as with so much of history, we are not certain.
In The Tempest, the spirit Ariel sings to Ferdinand, telling him that his father is drowned.
Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them,—ding-dong, bell.
And so, with Shakespeare, too. The bones he left behind have grown beyond anything he could imagine. All that was Shakespeare hath suffered a sea-change into something rich and strange. Consider, for example, what Margaret Atwood has done with The Tempest.
Atwood sets up the story in an almost embarrassingly simple-minded way–she has an egomaniacal theatre director get fired, and then take his revenge by taking a teaching job in a jail, where he has a class of inmates put on a production of The Tempest. And it’s amazing.
My purpose today is not to review Atwood’s book. You can read a very good review at The Guardian.
My goal today is to celebrate Shakespeare.
JudeMaris is a YouTube channel, responsible for a series of incredible Photoshop reconstructions of historical figures. Jude (A pen name for an M. A. Ludwig) takes existing drawings, paintings, sculptures, and verbal descriptions of historical figures, and set against a backdrop of his(?) own compositions, brings modern photo construction to their faces. The results are often breathtaking. I offer you Shakespeare today. But, trust me, if you grab a cup of coffee, you’ll happily spend the morning looking at JudeMaris’s creations.
Happy birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!