09w04:2 Shakespeare's Blog V

by timothy. 0 Comments

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)

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