Looking At The Forest After It Snowed

“I know who owns these woods, it’s a guy from in town.  He won’t mind if I hang out here for a minute.  My horse has no idea why we stopped out here in the middle of nowhere, though, I can tell by the way he’s shaking his harness.  It’s pretty quiet.  Anyway, nice woods, but I’ve still got a long trip ahead of me.” There you go, now you don’t have to ever read “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.  Enjoy. Look, I can do it with anything.  How about “O Captain, My Captain” by Walt Whitman? “Hey Captain, that was a pretty scary trip!  But good news, we found the prize we were looking for, and now we’re almost home.  I can hear the bells ringing and the people waiting for us on the shore.  Oh no!  There’s blood on the deck, the captain is dead.” Ok, one more.  Anybody like Poe? “One late night I was in the library, and I had nearly fallen asleep when I heard someone knocking.  ‘Must be someone at the door,’ I thought.  I remember it well, it was a cold December night and I’d been watching the fire in the fireplace, trying to get my mind off of my lost Lenore.  …”   Raise your hand if your sarcasm detector is going off. 🙂  Your friendly neighborhood Shakespeare Geek just read one too many stories about yet another dumbed down Shakespeare where “Is this a dagger that I see before, the handle toward my hand?  Come let me clutch at thee, I have thee not and yet I see thee still”  would be translated as “Oh look, a dagger.  Why, that’s odd, my hand went right through it, what’s up with that?”

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3 thoughts on “Looking At The Forest After It Snowed

  1. Well played, sir.

    If you’re going to read an updated version, you may as well read something else. Shakespeare is only Shakespeare in the original language. You make that point here as powerfully as I’ve seen it made.

    I like the Frost example best.

  2. The “dumbed down” Shakespeare books are far worse than the Cliffs Notes of yore — they reinforce the (false) idea among students that Shakespeare’s language is extremely difficult. It takes some adjustment, sure, but it’s not the same as reading Chaucer in Middle English.

  3. Just having familiarity with English language poetry helps a great deal in understanding Shakespeare– but even then assuming one is not reading directly from the Quartos or the Folio and thus reading modern spellings it’s really just a matter of reading a different dialect of English– and modern readers may not realize it– but they encounter multiple English dialects all the time, at work, at school, in their neighborhoods, on television, in film, in music, and yes, even contemporary literature.

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