(Poem #477) Fear no more the heat o' the sun
Fear no more the heat o' the sun, Nor the furious winter's rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages; Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust. Fear no more the frown o' the great; Thou art past the tyrant's stroke: Care no more to clothe and eat; To thee the reed is as the oak: The sceptre, learning, physic, must All follow this, and come to dust. Fear no more the lightning-flash, Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone; Fear not slander, censure rash; Thou hast finished joy and moan; All lovers young, all lovers must Consign to thee, and come to dust. No exorciser harm thee! Nor no witchcraft charm thee! Ghost unlaid forbear thee! Nothing ill come near thee! Quiet consummation have; And renownéd be thy grave!
from Cymbeline, Act IV, Scene 2. lines spoken by Guiderius and Arviragus . Over two months since we visited the Bard - this just will not do. ... that said, there's not a whole lot I can profitably write about old Will that hasn't already been written... . I guess what I like about today's poem - actually, it's an extract from one of the plays, but (like many such extracts) it forms a perfectly good poem in its own right - is the assuredness of the verse. The opening couplet: "Fear no more the heat o' the sun, Nor the furious winter's rages;" is wonderful in its simplicity and strength (and deserving of its place in every dictionary of Shakespearean quotations ever compiled). The rest of the poem is equally dignified and stately, yet never fails to move me emotionally. The theme (like that of much of Shakespeare's work) is Time and Death - 'Fear No More' is, after all, a funeral oration of sorts - yet the impression I get is not one of mourning, nor even sadness; rather, the poem has an air of calm repose and dignity (the word 'elegiac' springs to mind, except that it's not an elegy <grin>). Death is not the thief of time, he is, instead, the purveyor of eternal rest and quietude . thomas. PS. I also like the shift in metre in the final stanza - it serves to clearly demarcate the coda, and lend it an air of finality. Again, a wonderful balance of form, content and mood.  gotta love those names!  I would strongly recommend Harold Bloom's wonderful "Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human" and A. C. Bradley's "Shakespearean Tragedy". Oh, and previous instances of the Minstrels - check out [broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet  Keep in mind that Cymbeline was one of the last of Shakespeare's plays; it was written (as far as we know) in 1609, just seven years before his demise. (Also, see the Moreover section below). [Links] The text of Lamb's Cymbeline is here: [broken link] http://daphne.palomar.edu/shakespeare/lambtales/LTCYM.HTM [Moreover] "... 1608 also marks a change in tone in Shakespeare's work from the dark mood of the tragedies to one of light, magic, music, reconciliation and romance. Beginning with Pericles, Prince of Tyre (probably written 1607-8 -- the text of which is certainly mangled, accounting for its not being played frequently), and moving through Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale and finally in The Tempest Shakespeare conducted a grand experiment in form and poetry that took advantage of these elements, shaping them into an enduring art that has at its heart acceptance and the beneficence of providence. " -- [broken link] http://daphne.palomar.edu/shakespeare/timeline/timeline.htm