Poem-A-Day: William Shakespeare

This week is Shakespeare’s death anniversary, which falls on his presumed birth anniversary. I always like to post something from his works in honor of that. This year, though, I just couldn’t decide on something. Maybe I’m all Shakespeared out? I just finished teaching both Othello (to my sophomores) and Macbeth (to my seniors), so maybe it has something to do with that.

So instead, I’m going to post a line from Hamlet that just won’t leave me right now:

“Madness in great ones must not
unwatched go.”

This is from early in Act III. Claudius says it as part of his justification for spying on (and, let’s be honest, plotting against) Hamlet, but of course one could also possibly suggest an argument that this is ironic coming from a king who murdered his brother and married that brother’s wife in order to gain the throne (and get the girl, and thereby shunt his nephew-turned-stepson out of his rightful place on the throne). One might argue that Claudius is a little mad, too.

Let’s take this further, though. Let’s find the relevance from this quote into our own current (sur)reality. “Great ones” is a relative term. So is “madness.” But I would argue that it’s never a good idea to take one’s eye off people in power.

Don’t necessarily take their advice. (PSA: Do NOT inject disinfectant into yourself, even if you are sick, because it will probably kill you. Also, don’t even try to inject yourself with sunlight. Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with this nonsense.)

Gah.

There’s a fine line between unwatched and unwatchable. Look alive, campers.

If you’d like to see more of my National Poetry Month posts featuring The Bard, click here:  2014, 2017, 2018, 2019.

In other news, what is your favorite passage from Shakespeare? Share it in the comments below!

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Go to this month’s first Poem-A-Day to learn how to participate in a game as part of this year’s series. You can have just a little involvement or go all the way and write a cento. I hope you’ll join in!

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Click through the links above for the Shakespeare posts from 2018 and 2019 for some biographical information and images of him. I’ll warn you that the bios get more irreverent as time goes on. Cheers!

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