Posts Tagged “shakespeare’s blog”

09w06:4 Shakespeare's Blog VIII

by timothy. 0 Comments

February 6th
At work on this new play of Richard II and have Holinshed and Marlowe’s Edward before me. Ah, dead Kit, long rotted, long worm-eaten. How long has any one of us? By the Minories this morning was found, thrown into the kennel, bloody, stripped, robbed, a man I have seen oft about, a decent merchant called Gervis or some such name, now dead and his poor body dishonoured. I take to the drinking of a little sweet wine to dispel the vapours that clouds my brains. Soon I am on my way to her, determined on boldness. The little wine has become much. I am come, I tell her, to read verse to her. She is in a loose lawn gown, her arms and shoulders bare to the great seacoal fire. She will listen. Listen, then. Here is the Roman poet Catullus. You know no Latin but I will English it. Let us live, my Lesbia, and love (who is dis Lesvia? – She is the poet’s mistress.)…Suns may set and rise again. For us, when once the brief light has set, there is left for our sleeping the sleep of one endless night. Ah, the horror of that, Lesbia (Fatimah, I would say), is in the very sound of the Latin: nox est perpetua una dormienda. She shudders. So what den do dey do? Oh, he asks for a thousand kisses, then a hundred, then another thousand, then a second hundred, then another thousand again, then a hundred. Mx Cx Mx Cx Mx Cx. Thousands and hundreds of kisses in sweetest alternation. Dat is a many kisses.

-Do you kiss in your country?

-We kiss not as you do. We have what is called de chium. It is done wid de nose.

-Show me.

-Nay, dat I may not.

-I beseech you.

She shyly places her delicate splay-nose on my left cheek and ploughs up once and down once, as she were new-making the furrow already there.

-Ah, that is good, but an English kiss is better.

So saying, I seize her in mine arms and place my lips on hers. It is like no English kiss I have ever known: her lips are neither a rosebud nor a thin predatory line; they are full and fleshy, like some strange fruit or flower of her Indies. Her teeth are well forward, set like a palisade to forbid the melting of a close kiss. I bring my mouth away from hers and set it to kissing the cool-warm brown smoothness of her shoulder. But she will have none of this and yet she will; she pushes and pulls me toward-away from her. So now it is to me to say:

-I love thee, by God I do. My love my love I love thee.

-I love not dee.

And then she thrusts me away with more power and strength than I had thought possible to reside in such slenderness. But now I am whetted and will not desist. I clasp her and she batters me with little golden fists, crying at me in her own tongue. She cannot prevail and so she bites toward me, her tiny white teeth snapping at the air. So it is needful that I bear down upon her, drawing, as it were, the teeth of her biting in a great disabling kiss, the while I hold her to me as I would engraft her on to my body. And so soon she yields.

Soon? Very soon. I see soon that she knows all. She is no tyro in this game. I feel that disappointment that all men know when they discover they are not the first, and disappointment makes a kind of anger which makes a kind of savagery. But I possess her in a terrible joy, the appetite growing with the act of feeding, which astonishes me. And in the end I coldly see that I have a mistress. And a very rare one.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 148-50)

09w06:3 Shakespeare's Blog Part VII

by timothy. 0 Comments

February 2nd
It is the birthday of Hamnet and Judith and I have not been home this long time. But I have sent news and also money. I am busy here, I am much occupied, I am working for them, am I not? Aye, much occupied; be true to thyself if not to others. I ask her about her present life but she will tell me little. What does she seek, what does she wish from this life? She does not know. Surely love, I say; surely we all wish love, the pleasure of love and the strong fort of love’s protection. She does not know. I ask what name I may call her by now, for I cannot madam her so in perpetuity. Her true name, she says, is Fatimah. Kissing both her hands in leaving I let my lips linger. She does not draw her hands away.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 148)

09w05:1 Shakespeare's Blog Part VI

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January 27th

It was yesterday and I have scarce breath to write. Liveried barges to Greenwich and then the great roaring fires and braziers against the bright thin cold as we deck ourselves, wine too and ale and chines and boarheads and a tumbling profusion of kickshawses, then we gasp in to the Great Hall, the Queen chewing on broken teeth in her magnificence, gold throne, bare diamond-winking bosoms glowing in the heat of logs and seacoal, laughing lords and tittering ladies and the Queen’s bead-eyes on my lord E, amethysts bloodstones carbuncles flashing fingers jewelled swordhilts the clothofgold bride and silken yawning groom. And so, amid coughs, to our play, Will Ostler trembling and forgetting his lines and finger-clicking for bookholder to prompt but all else going well save for Kemp, impromptu King, who got not so much laughter as he thought his due and chided audience for this. Later almost to blows with Kemp, but he has a share and I am but a poet. So home in dead weariness (torchlight on the river as though the river burned). But in my cold chamber I am dragged wide awake by letter on table with H’s seal. It is to be done. I am to have my share. In fever of delight and gratitude. So I go today to her house, clear flashing winter sunlight making a world all of tinkling money, and I am admitted at once, for all must go well for me now. I have a gift for her if she will accept it, it is no more than a dish of candy from the Court, but it is from the Court the Court, mark that, madam. Aye, my play was done before the Queen’s majesty at Greenwich. Before the Queen? Aye, that. And what did she wear and what noble lords and ladies were there and tell me all all all. And so I told her all.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 147-48)

09w04:2 Shakespeare's Blog V

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January 20th

Today I pierced that fastness. The bit-and-piecing of the play goes on in rehearsal but, hearing the set speech I have given Theseus on the lunatic the lover and the poet I, standing hand-rubbing oldly as Philostrate, was of a sudden filled with lunaticloverpoet’s pride. I marched bold as a soldier to her house in the afternoon, there being no performance, and knocked and said to the maid, a long-nosed girl, that Master Shakespeare was come to deliver somewhat to her mistress. Her mistress, says she, is occupied and cannot be seen, mayhap she herself can take. I say no, I am here on the Lord Chamerberlain’s behoof and will not bandy with servants. And she she she comes into the hallway to ask who is here. She sees me and says: Well, come in and let us know what is your business. So I leftright leftright to a fair panelled room and we sit. The somewhat I have for her is but a cordial summons to tomorrow’s Romeo. Is Master Burbage in it, she would know, and I say aye. Ah, she is sorry then but she is promised abroad. You have then, madam, a large acquaintance in London? Oh, I am invited much. For mine own part, madam, I find a poet’s life a surfeit of clawers and rubbers. I was but saying a week gone to my near friend Harry Wriothesly, the Earl of Southampton that is … He is a friend, you say? The Earl of Southampton is your friend? Oh, I have earls and dukes enow as friends; I was saying but this morning to Duke Theseus …

You speak English prettily, madam. What, though, is your native tongue? Say somewhat in it. She says (I write it on my tablet): Slammat jalan. What means that, madam? It is what we say to one who is leaving, it means: let your journey be safe. And so I am gently dismissed. But I kiss that wonder of a warm tawny hand before leaving.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 146-47)

09w03:1 Shakespeare's Blog IV

by timothy. 0 Comments

January 13th

So cold and kibey a day that I laugh in scorn of our trade that we represent midsummer, all leafy and flowery. She has kept indoors, her house all muffled up with shutters as it too feels the cold. I am sick of these sugar rhymes. I dream after dinner (a drowsy one of fat pork and a pudding) that I am ass-headed Bottom in the bower of a tiny golden Titania. Thou art as wise as thou are beautiful. The mirror shows bad teeth and beard fast graying, a wormy skin. Old dad.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 146)

09w02:4 Shakespeare's Blog III

by timothy. 0 Comments

January 9th

At the Theatre in the mornings they are rehearsing already in their several groups, for that is the one way to deal with short notice, to write a play soft-jointed and separable out. And it was without the walls that I had the good chance to see her and, my heart beating unwontedly, even to address a word. I was leaving for my lodging and her coach was coming by. Then a gentleman appears from Spitalfields way and his horse slipped and slithered in all the foul slushy snowbroth so that her own two took fright and the offside reared and whinnied. It was I that nimbly darted, though panting much after, and seized his head, saying calming words. Her coach-man got down and first her maid put out her face from the coach and the she on the other side, drawing aside her veil to see what was the matter. And so I went up and doffed my hat and bowed.

-All is right now. That horse slipped, see. He had ridden on and all is well again.

-I am beholden. I thank. Wait, I will give …

-Ah, madam, no. I am a gentleman. I am Master Shakespeare of the Theatre there.

-You are there? You are of Master Burbage’s company?

How knows she of him? Her voice is prettily foreign. She cannot say th or w. I tank. Bwait, I bwill geef … I drank in her goldeness.

-You have seen Master Burbage act then, madam?

-Him I did see in Rish Hard de Turd.

And so I smiled, saying:

-The play of which I myself am the author. You are welcome any time at the Theatre. I will be most happy to offer you what hospitality the house affords.

But she smiled queenlily, saying:

-I tank you. Now must we on.

So saying, she bade her coachman continue on their way and left me there standing in the dirty snow. And I was aware that H has said no more of the £1000 and I remain the writing hack whom they will welcome as a whole shareholder can I but find the money.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 145-146)

09w02:2 Shakespeare's Blog II

by timothy. 0 Comments

January 6th

Walking over crisp snow to my ordinary I saw her. She is either newly back or newly up from a sickness. To such as her our cold must be all agony. She was all mobled up at the window, he tawniness flat and dull in this snowlight, and I felt pity. I cannot believe that she is more than mocked at by the Inn men for her colour, I cannot believe that she is of that Clerkenwell tribe. She is brown not negro. Boldly I waved my hand passing, but she did not see or she ignored. And so back to rhyming away at the lover’s scenes, wooden wooden wooden but there i sn o time for re-working. Well, I put the bad harvest in Oberon’s speech and the thought for a fancy I would give my dark one in the window a womb rich with Titania’s young squire. I do but beg a little changeling boy to be my henchman.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 144-145)

09w01:1 Shakespeare's Blog I

by timothy. 0 Comments

January 4th

Madness madness all madness. After H departed there comes Dick Burbage all hotfoot and sweating spite of the bitter cold with loud news that the Men are commanded to play at the wedding of the Earl of Derby and H’s cast-off Lady Liza. Things so coincidentally chiming ring like matter of a comedy, yet life is so, often grossly so, so that a playmaker feels himself to be a better contriver than God or Fate or who runs the mad world. The madness is in the brevity of the time. At the Court of Greenwich but three weeks from now. Well, let us lie back on the bed unmade for more to coincide, for H knocked books from my shelf and one was Chaucer that opened at the duc that highte Theseus and weddede the Queen Ypolita, and the other was this fire-new marriage-song of Edm. Spense with his

Ne let the Pouke, nor other evill spirghtes,
Ne let mischievous witches with their charmes,
Ne let hob Goblins, names whose sence we see not,
Fray us with things that be not

And so I lay on my back a space and watched the fire sink to all glowing caverns and it was like a dance of fieries, I would say fairies. And then came the name Bottom, which will do for a take-off of Ned Alleyn, so that I laughed. Snow falling as I sat to work (I cannot have Plautus twins for most will have seen C of E but I can have the Pouke or Puck confound poor lovers) and the bellman stamped his feet and cursed, blowing on his fingers. Yet with my fire made up I sweated as mid-summer, and lo I got my title.

(Anthony Burgess, Nothing Like The Sun, p. 144)