William Shakespeare, the king of all bards, celebrated his birthday last week, a day that marked his 450th year of incomparable influence on English literature. Shakespeare’s name is perhaps one of the most well-known in history – alongside Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln’s – and is definitely the one, single writer who had the most enduring influence on all of the greatest English-writing writers history has ever had the pleasure of knowing.
The Bard of Avon had been dead since 1616, but William Shakespeare’s legacy still remain strong, centuries after his death – and it isn’t just because he is a required course in most humanities programs. All of today’s literature take inspiration, wittingly or otherwise, from the immortal words of the world’s greatest playwright.
And if you think his words are simply too ancient to remain relevant in the age of hashtags, then you’re reading him wrong: A quick review of William Shakespeare’s writings will astound you with its relevance. On the subject of love, Shakespeare’s words are still eerily accurate:
“The course of true love never did run smooth”. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1.1)
“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vex’d a sea nourish’d with lovers’ tears:
What is it else? a madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet. “
(Romeo and Juliet, 1.1)
“Love is merely a madness: and, I tell you, deserves as
as well a dark house and a whip, as madmen do: and the
reason why they are not so punished and cured, is, that
the lunacy is so ordinary, that the whippers are in love too.”
(As You Like It, 3.2)
On friendship, Shakespeare had some wonderful words for today’s youth:
Love, friendship, charity, are subjects all
To envious and calumniating time.
(Troilus and Cressida 3.3.180-1)
A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities.
(Julius Caesar 4.3.85)
People around the world rejoice the words and wisdom of William Shakespeare, who through his great work broke barriers of space and time to send the modern-day man messages of love and friendship. In London, they celebrate Shakespeare’s life through the rebuilding of the Globe Theatre, where many of Shakespeare’s work had come to life.
William Shakespeare’s work only consists of 38 plays, 154 sonnets and 2 narrative poems– significantly shorter than many prolific writers we know. But his impact on the generations is definitely more grand than the others. Although we are uncertain of what the future will look like, we are confident that the words of William Shakespeare will have a vital role in shaping it.
[Image from Wikimedia]