Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

enjoyment they drew from the conversation of these men on all subjects. Shakespeare was also an actor.

He seems, however, not to have had great success in this line, for he only took subordinate parts. The role of the ghost of Hamlet's father, a small though important part, was his best performance. He appears to have taken little pleasure in the actor's art, for he soon renounced it entirely, and was only occupied at the theatre as co-proprietor and playwright. If we are compelled by indisputable internal and external cvidence to acknowledge that Shakespeare's youth was not untroubled by passion and dissipation, we are, on the other hand, in a position to infer from not less unmistakable indications, that in his riper years he became a quiet, gentle, and worthy personage, in whom no one would have suspected the poacher of Stratford or the poct of many of the Sonnets. About 1614 he returned to his native town, after obtaining abundant success, fame, and a competent fortune, to enjoy there in peace and quiet the fruits of his activity. But fate did not long allow him to enjoy this rest.

As early as April 23, 1616, in the fifty-third year of his age, he died. Of the nature and details of his last illness we know nothing. A short time previously he had made his will, leaving his daughter Susannah, who had always been his favourite, and her husband, a physician, Doctor Hall, heirs to his whole fortune. It is a circumstance which gives rise to strange and peculiar conjecture that he leaves nothing whatever to his wife in the body of his will, but in a codicil testates to her his “second-best bed” and its furniture. His body lies in the church of Stratford-on-Avon. In 1752, more than a hundred years after his death, after a long period of forgetfulness of his memory and his fame, when the world once more reawaked to their value, England erected in Westminster Abbey a splendid monument to her greatest poet. The life-sized statue of the dramatist, in the costume of his time, leans on a pillar whereon are repre

sented the symbols of Tragedy and Comedy. His hand rests on a book in which can be read the passage from the Tempest, act iv. scene I :

Like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a slcep.

Kreyjsig, after quoting the above inscription, whose connection with the great dead to whom they are dedicated is far from clear, says, “It scems to me that Hamlet's words,

He was a man, take him for all in all,
We shall not look upon his like again,

would have been more appropriate upon the monument of a man of whom it may be said, if ever of any one, that he had overcome death, however suggestive the others may be of the evanescence of earthly things."

SHAKESPEARE'S NARRATIVE POEMS

“VENUS AND ADONIS"_"LUCRETIA"

CHAPTER IV

SHAKESPEARE'S NARRATIVE POEMS

VENUS AND ADONIS"

THE
HE first sketches for Shakespeare's two narrative poems

were probably written in Stratford before his move to London. Both, however, before they were printed (Venus and Adonis in 1593 and Lucretia in 1594), were thoroughly worked over, and both were dedicated to the Earl of Southampton, the poet's patron and friend. The subject of Venus and Adonis is the myth of the love of the goddess Venus for the beautiful youth Adonis the son of Myrrha. The beloved of the goddess was killed during the chase by a boar, and afterwards turned by her into an anemone. In Ovid's Metamorphoses, of which the English translation was certainly the source whence Shakespeare drew this fable, it is simply related that Venus renounced the life of the blessed in Olympus for love of the beautiful mortal, wishing to dwell with him on earth, and that when he was seized with a passion for the chase, she warned him against the animals to whom Nature had given weapons. But the rash youth sought danger for its own sake, and, while hunting a boar, was slain by the beast, whereupon the mourning goddess turned him into an

Out of this simple tale, devoid of psychological interest, Shakespeare has woven a passionate picture of the sufferings of an ardent unrequited love, which burns the more fiercely the more coldly it is met by the heloved

anemone.

« ZurückWeiter »