Will to Live
The immortal language of Shakespeare is still with us today
This is an entry in the Saturday series of Timeless & Timely called “Off the Clock,” where we focus on words, a quirk of history or literature, or something just plain fun. It’s one of the perks of joining as a paid subscriber.
“Writ in remembrance more than things long past.” — William Shakespeare, 1595 (King Richard II)
William Shakespeare was a powerhouse.
Not only did the Bard of Avon produce a significant volume of work (39 plays and 154 sonnets, among other works), but he left us with words and phrases that are now commonplace.
Given that April 23 marked the anniversary of his death in 1616, I thought we ought to spend some time on his influence on the language.
For the young reader, the Elizabethan English in Shakespeare’s plays can seem stilted, foreign, and in some cases, incomprehensible.
But if we take a moment and dig just a bit below the surface, we can unearth some archeological vocabulary that is much more familiar — terms that he not only popularized, but that he also invented.
From As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms...”