Friday, 10 October 2008

And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods make heaven drowsy with the harmony.

I was thinking about those lines in books and plays that strike a chord with us, that make our hearts quicken, and cause those little moments of happiness. I have no idea why, but at this moment I'm in a hopelessly romantic mood ... no reason for this really. Anyway, are there certain lines that you read that just seem to sum up the notion of love and harmony for you? Or that you see, and think 'yes, that's a concept I want to hang on to'?

I'm not even sure what I'm driving at - I just feel like quoting Shakespeare. And who needs a proper reason for doing that?

Walking around the Actor's church in Covent Garden, there is a plaque to Vivien Leigh, with this epitaph on it:

"Now boast thee, death, in thy possession lies
A lass unparalleled."

It's from Antony and Cleopatra, and always manages to touch me when I see it.

'Make me a willow cabin at your gate,
And call upon my soul within the house;
Write loyal cantons of contemned love
And sing them loud even in the dead of night;
Halloo your name to the reverberate hills
And make the babbling gossip of the air
Cry out 'Olivia!' O, You should not rest
Between the elements of air and earth,
But you should pity me!
- Twelfth Night

'Serve God, Love me, and mend'
Benedick - Much Ado About Nothing

'This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
- Henry V

'The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo. You, that way: we, this way.'
- Love's Labours Lost

Trying to choose a favourite sonnet is like trying to choose which ice cream flavour to have, when every flavour in the world is offered. Here are a couple at random ....

What's in the brain that ink may character,
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit,
What's new to speak, what now to register,
That may express my love, or thy dear merit?
Nothing sweet boy, but yet like prayers divine,
I must each day say o'er the very same,
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.
So that eternal love in love's fresh case,
Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
But makes antiquity for aye his page,
Finding the first conceit of love there bred,
Where time and outward form would show it dead.
- sonnet 108

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other,
When that mine eye is famished for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother;
With my love's picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart:
Another time mine eye is my heart's guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part.
So either by thy picture or my love,
Thy self away, art present still with me,
For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee.
Or if they sleep, thy picture in my sight
Awakes my heart, to heart's and eye's delight.
- sonnet 47

I think I'll go to bed now. I've got quite a full weekend, what with selling books and going to Blenheim for a literary festival on Sunday, although Nicola Beauman of Persephone books has cancelled her talk, so I'll only be hearing Jane Austen's letters spoken aloud. Ample time to wander around the grounds though, and take a massive amount of pictures!!

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