My Year Of Shakespeare Shakepeare

My personal journey into the world of William Shakespeare

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

I have always been aware that there was this dude named Shakespeare and that he influenced, well, everything. It seemed like a good time to read up on him and read what he wrote.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Venus and Adonis (part1)

It is fitting that I am starting out with this work. I learned two things about Shakespeare right away.
1. Venus and Adonis was probably written during a terrible outbreak of plague when London's theatres were closed as a precaution against infection. Shakespeare had already begun to make his mark as a playwright but this is his first work in print.
2. This isn't a play at all, it is a poem. Shakespeare didn't just write plays, he also wrote poems. OK, I knew of the Sonnets, but those are sonnets, this is a full poem. I guess I am in for more than I bargained for.
Venus and Adonis is an early example of the erotic poems that were fashionable at the time in London. This is one hot, steamy example to be sure. No wonder that it is his most frequently reprinted work.
Not being familiar with the tale of Venus and Adonis, or the telling in book 10 of Ovid's Metamorphosis, I quickly discovered that Adonis, pretty boy that he was, inadvertantly, yet completely enraptured poor innocent Venus. Or so it seems. Wait, isn't Venus the Goddess of Love? Yeah that seems familiar. Not so innocent after all. After begging, pleading, kissing, cajoling, kissing some more, she is very frustrated with his less than excited responses. Venus tells him,"

'I have been wooed as I entreat thee now
Even by the stern and direful god of war,
Whose sinewy neck in battle ne'er did bow,
Who conquers where he comes in every jar.
Yet hath he been my captive and my slave,
And begged for that which thou unasked shall have.

And then she says"

Thou wast begot; to get is thy duty.

Poor Adonis, I think you have bit off more than you can chew here."

Fondling,' she saith, 'since I have hemmed thee here
Within the circuit of this ivory pale,
I'll be a park, and thou shalt be my deer.
Feed where thou wilt, on mountains or in dale;
Graze on my lips, and if those hills be dry,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountains lie.

Whoa! I need a cold shower before I continue.....


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