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Poetry As You Like It

August 30, 2013

“He that will divide a minute into a thousand parts and break but a part of the thousand part of a minute in the affairs of love, it may be said of him that Cupid hath clapped him o’ the shoulder, but I’ll warrant him heartwhole.”

(Rosalind to Orlando, As You Like It Act 3 Scene 5)

That was the first couple of lines of Shakespeare’s that made me stop and enjoy working out exactly what he was saying.

We were reading “As You Like It” in class and, inaugurating a lifetime of being cruelly cast, I was given the melancholy Jacques, (who gets the seven ages of man speech, admittedly) and not the more flattering role of the burly Orlando, who gets so much of the delightful and feisty Rosalind’s attention. Nor the headline comedian’s part, the lewder Touchstone, also an exile from court but, shall we say, more able to adapt to country matters.

The division of a minute in these lines and Jacques “seven ages” are but two of the images of time given in this pastoral play, that fills an audience with a happy sense of the rightness of the agricultural year, which may have some hard seasons but should lead to a blossoming and an abundant harvest worth celebrating, perhaps even with a marriage or two.

Rosalind trains her chosen lad as carefully as a farmer may encourage a crop to mature, taking brilliant advantage of her disguise as the boy Ganymede. And the first audiences must have taken particular pleasure in knowing that the feisty heroine disguised as a boy was a boy disguised as a girl disguised as a boy.

Modern productions tend to award this wonderful role to an engaging actress, and the play is a perfect rom com that few can resist. The title itself seems like Shakespeare’s company directly addressing its public; we’ve had our history lesson, now let’s have some fun! So, before you go creeping snail like unwillingly leaving the delights of summer spare a while to enjoy this final production in Titchfield Festival Theatre’s Shakespeare Festival season and don’t forget to attend the gala night on Sunday September 29th, when the winners of are announced, celebrated, performed and rewarded!

The intention is not just to give an extra treat to TFT’s faithful and growing audience and admirers, but to provide spectacular and meaningful support and recognition to today’s hard pressed but growing band of poets, with a stimulus to their creativity, a wonderful stage upon which to perform their short listed poem or see it performed by actors from the company, cash prizes for the top three winners and, perhaps, to have word art transformed into works of art.

The gala will be further enlivened by the presence of popular local band Town of Cats, who look like this and sound like this

They have agreed to maintain a respectful silence whilst poetry takes centre stage, and then to bring the event to a rousing close with a few of their lively musical numbers.


From → Critic

  1. Well,what can I say? It’s a shame we don’t have TFT here in Romania,and we don’t study Shakespeare,at least not in school… I read a few pages from Othello but I didn’t get the chance to buy it. I would have also entered the contest,seems fun,but I don’t know any of Shakespeare’s works in detail,so I’ll pass. Anyway,good luck with that!


    • Shakespeare’s works are available on the web, entry to the contest is free and can be by email, so there is still time without expense or travel! Many lines of Shakespeare’s contain enough of a theme to inspire a poem.
      Still, no pressure, Akira; if all goes well this contest will be in place every summer from this, it’s inaugural year.
      Sure Romania has its TFT if you look for it!
      Good to hear from you, stay well.


      • I might wait until next year,to refine my skills and to have time to study Shakespeare as I should. Anyway,thanks for the invite.


  2. The deadline for the contest is September 8, so there is still time to write a poem and enter!


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