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Friends, Lowellians, countrymen lend me your ears;
I come to praise Shakespeare for tis his birthday.
It is not that I love Kerouac less
But that I love Shakespeare more.
William Shakespeare was born 444 years ago today (April 23) in Stratford on Avon. I love Shakespeare and have since the first time I read him in the 10th grade. The play was Julius Caesar and it staggered me…today it still remains my favorite. Here’s a little personal secret…for years I owned two Hollywood movie versions of the classic. One staring Charlton Heston as Mark Antony and Jason Robarts as Brutus. In the other Marlon Brando plays Antony and James Mason, Brutus. Each year on the Ides of March (March 15) I watched one of the two…I must admit by far my favorite was Heston’s…I can still hear him reciting the famous funeral oration:
Come I, to speak in Caesar’s funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed;
And, as he plucked his cursed steel away,
Mark how the blood of Caesar followed it.
As rushing out of doors, to be resolved.
If Brutus so unkindly knocked or no;
For Brutus, as you know was Caesar’s angel:
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all.
Unfortunately, “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunate” have taken these videos from me…but every Ides of March and April 23rd I can’t help but think of them and the joy this play has given me.
Happy Birthday Bill!
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