WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE ON THE ART OF LOVE William Shakespeare Edited By Michael Best



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Review
The Art of Love is a beautifully illustrated and luxuriously silk-bound collection of the most romantic passages from the poetry and plays of one of the world's favourite writers, William Shakespeare. The beauty of the language and the universality of the powerful emotions ensures that his work lives on across the centuries. Shakespeare's alchemy of the imagination distils the very essence of love into words: the passion, the courage, the jealousy and the melancholy. This exquisite volume offers wonderful words on love in all its moods, in verse and prose, along with an illuminating introduction and commentary by Michael Best, a Shakespeare Scholar. From the star-crossed Romeo and Juliet, the witty Benedick and Beatrice, to the broody passion of Othello and the Dark Lady of the sonnets, there is much here to admire, enjoy and treasure.
272pp, 158mm x 240mm, illus. in colour, hardback, 2009

Extract
Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts:
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, 'This poet lies:
Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces.'
So should my papers (yellowed with their age)
Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termed a poet's rage,
And stretched metre of an antique song.
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice: in it, and in my rhyme.

***

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed.
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

***

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see;
For all the day they view things unrespected,
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow's form, form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

From William Shakespeare On the Art of Love, ?2009 by William Shakespeare, edited by Michael Best, published by Duncan Baird.

Extract
As You Like It
In a gender-bending comedy, Rosalind disguises herself as a young man to escape from her cruel uncle; she and her cousin Celia flee to the Forest of Arden, where she discovers that her new love, Orlando, has also been banished to the forest, and has been papering the trees with hyperbolic (and rather bad) poems addressed to her. In her masculine disguise, she is able to propose a 'cure' to Orlando; in the process she is able to find out whether his love is genuine, and whether they can be friends as well as lovers. Shakespeare enjoys the irony where Rosalind cheerfully lists the 'giddy offences' laid at the door of women in general.

ACT 3, SCENE 2
ORLANDO    Where dwell you pretty youth?
ROSALIND    With this shepherdess, my sister; here in the skirts of the forest, like fringe upon a petticoat.
ORLANDO    Are you native of this place?
ROSALIND    As the coney that you see dwell where she is kindled.
ORLANDO    Your accent is something finer than you could purchase in so removed a dwelling.
ROSALIND    I have been told so of many. But indeed, an old religious uncle of mine taught me to speak, who was in his youth an inland man; one that knew courtship too well, for there he fell in love. I have heard him read many lectures against it, and I thank God I am not a woman, to be touched with so many giddy offences as he hath generally taxed their whole sex withal.
ORLANDO    Can you remember any of the principal evils that he laid to the charge of women?
ROSALIND    There were none principal; they were all like one another as halfpence are, every one fault seeming monstrous till his fellow-fault came to match it.
ORLANDO    I prithee recount some of them.
ROSALIND    No; I will not cast away my physic but on those that are sick. There is a man haunts the forest that abuses our young plants with carving 'Rosalind' on their barks; hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles; all, forsooth, deifying the name of Rosalind. If I could meet that fancy-monger, I would give him some good counsel, for he seems to have the quotidian of love upon him.
ORLANDO    I am he that is so love-shaked; I pray you tell me your remedy.
ROSALIND    There is none of my uncle's marks upon you. He taught me how to know a man in love; in which cage of rushes I am sure you are not prisoner.
ORLANDO    What were his marks?
ROSALIND    A lean cheek, which you have not; a blue eye and sunken, which you have not; a beard neglected, which you have not - but I pardon you for that, for simply your having in beard is a younger brother's revenue. Then your hose should be ungartered, your bonnet unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied, and everything about you demonstrating a careless desolation. But you are no such man: you are rather point-device in your accoutrements, as loving yourself than seeming the lover of any other.
ORLANDO    Fair youth, I would I could make thee believe I love.
ROSALIND    Me believe it! You may as soon make her that you love believe it, which I warrant she is apter to do than to confess she does. That is one of the points in the which women still give the lie to their consciences. But, in good sooth, are you he that hangs the verses on the trees wherein Rosalind is so admired?
ORLANDO    I swear to thee, youth, by the white hand of Rosalind, I am that he, that unfortunate he.
ROSALIND    But are you so much in love as your rhymes speak?
ORLANDO    Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much.
ROSALIND    Love is merely a madness, and I tell you, deserves 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. Yet I profess curing it by counsel.
ORLANDO    Did you ever cure any so?
ROSALIND    Yes, one, and in this manner. He was to imagine me his love, his mistress; and I set him every day to woo me. At which time would I, being but a moonish youth, grieve, be effeminate, changeable, longing and liking, proud, fantastical, apish, shallow, inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles, for every passion something and for no passion truly anything, as boys and women are for the most part cattle of this colour; would now like him, now loathe him; then entertain him, then forswear him; now weep for him, then spit at him; that I drove my suitor from his mad humour of love to a living humour of madness, which was, to forswear the full stream of the world and to live in a nook merely monastic. And thus I cured him; and this way will I take upon me to wash your liver as clean as a sound sheep's heart, that there shall not be one spot of love in't.
ORLANDO    I would not be cured, youth.
ROSALIND    I would cure you, if you would but call me Rosalind and come every day to my cote and woo me.
ORLANDO    Now by the faith of my love, I will.

 Rosalind (disguised as the youth 'ganymede') continues her game of pretending to be herself. She puts into practice her belief that if it is to survive, love must be forever changing, forever challenging; and in the face of Orlando's romantic idealism she provides a dose of reality.


From William Shakespeare On the Art of Love, ?2009 by William Shakespeare & Edited by Michael Best, published by Duncan Baird Publishers.


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