March 08, 2010

Your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating

Goat Rope is still plowing, albeit not in a straight line, through Hamlet. We're all the way to one of my favorite parts, the gravedigger scene at the beginning of Act 5. If Shakespeare doesn't do it for you, you can scroll down to the links and comments section below.

Harold Bloom has noted that Hamlet plays Falstaff to himself, meaning that he provides his own comic relief. In fact, there's only one person in the whole play who can hold his own with him in a verbal sparring match and that person is a gravedigger. Here's some banter between the digger and his companion before Hamlet and Horatio arrive on the scene:

First Clown : ...There is no ancient
gentleman but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers:
they hold up Adam's profession.

Second Clown: Was he a gentleman?

First Clown: He was the first that ever bore arms.

Second Clown: Why, he had none.

First Clown: What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the
Scripture? The Scripture says 'Adam digged:'
could he dig without arms?

I suppose every profession has its own pride of place, but our friend makes a strong case for his own:

First Clown: What is he that builds stronger than either the
mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?

Second Clown: The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a
thousand tenants.

First Clown: I like thy wit well, in good faith: the gallows
does well; but how does it well? it does well to
those that do ill: now thou dost ill to say the
gallows is built stronger than the church: argal,
the gallows may do well to thee. To't again, come.

Second Clown: 'Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or
a carpenter?'

First Clown: Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.

Second Clown: Marry, now I can tell.

First Clown: To't.

Second Clown:Mass, I cannot tell.

First Clown: Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull
ass will not mend his pace with beating; and, when
you are asked this question next, say 'a
grave-maker: 'the houses that he makes last till

I think he may have a point.

SPEAKING OF GRAVES, a lot more people will be in them if we don't reform health care. Here's a report on this from Families USA and here's some WV coverage of the same issue.

GOT FIGS? Here's the latest edition of the Rev. Jim Lewis' Notes from Under the Fig Tree. I see he's got a little Shakespeare of his own going on this time.

ON THE BRIGHT SIDE, there's seems to be a drop in children's bullying.

THE BUTLER DIDN'T DO IT, an asteroid did.



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