Archive for the 'Poetry' Category

Teach Along with the Frozen Soundtrack

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

So, you want to teach your students about literary devices, but they’re too preoccupied with the music from Disney’s Frozen? If so, this post is for you.

The Frozen soundtrack is actually full of literary, poetic, and rhetorical devices that you can point out for students, or have them find for you. Join me as I throw open the gates of Arendelle so that I may unlock its secrets and exploit its riches. (Did I say that out loud?)

“Frozen Heart”

This song introduces a number of motifs in the movie, including ice, snow, and the heart (frozen or otherwise). The lyrics use vibrant imagery throughout, and help establish the Nordic setting of the movie. Within the lyrics, anaphora is used as a device (”strike for love and strike for fear”), and there is a string of bold adjectives that form an asyndeton (Beautiful! Powerful! Dangerous! Cold!).

“Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

It doesn’t have to be a snowman, because the snowman is a symbol for the bond between the sisters formed during childhood play. The song passes over long periods of time, forming an ellipsis. The lyrics make good use of alliteration, and there’s even an allusion to Joan of Arc. The lyrics say “Tick Tock,” which would be onomatopoeia, though in the movie, Anna clicks her tongue to simulate the sound.

“For the First Time in Forever”

The title is a great example of hyperbole, and the song foreshadows later events in that it explains why Anna is so quick to want to marry Hans. “Stuff some chocolate in my face” is metonymy. There is an intertextual moment when Anna passes Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled. There is also a juxtaposition at the end when she sings that nothing’s in her way before running smack into a horse.

“Love Is an Open Door”

The title is a great example of a metaphor. “Can I just say something crazy?” is actually a rhetorical question. The lyrics make a lot of use of repetition, both with Anna and Hans repeating each other and themselves. But they also have shared lines. (The link is to the Macbeths finishing each other’s sandwiches at lines 21-24.) There is also some good Tier II vocabulary in this song, if you were looking for some.

“Let It Go”

The song can easily be taken as an allegory, but for what will vary by audience member. The lyrics are filled with antithesis and rhyme (both internal rhyme and end rhyme). There are also some clear similes in the text. “The cold never bothered me anyway” is litotes, a rhetorical understatement. Also… Damn, Idina Menzel can sing. That’s not a literary device or anything, but damn!

“Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People”

Kristof uses personification to sing Sven’s part of the song, though in the movie it is clear that Sven is completely aware that its his part and what the lyrics are going to be. The movie uses the song to characterize Kristof as being less comfortable around other people. The song itself is doggerel verse that uses polysyndeton and epistrophe (”people will beat you and curse you and cheat you”).

“In Summer”

This is a perfect example of dramatic irony, in that the audience knows something that Olaf does not. A singing snowman is an example of anthropomorphism. The lyrics play around with oxymoron, and employ some puns. There is also an implied rhyme when Olaf says “happy snowman” when he clearly was going to say “puddle.” (The link is to a similar moment when Hamlet declines the rhyme “ass” at line 216.)

“For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”

There is a lot of intratextuality here, not just with the callback to “For the First Time in Forever” but to several other songs in the soundtrack. The sisters sing in counterpoint, highlighting one of the movie’s central conflicts. The song begins with a flashback. And there is situational irony, as Elsa sends Anna away in an attempt to protect her, and in doing so, causes her a life-threatening injury.

“Fixer Upper”

The trolls employ an analogy in describing Kristof with a term of real-estate jargon, which is itself a euphemism. The list of Kristof’s faults is a form of proslepsis, as the trolls are listing faults they think Anna should overlook, while introducing new ones she might not be aware of. The song also highlights one of the major themes of the movie: that love has the power to heal each of us.

A Good Pairing

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Last week, I was working with a Shakespeare teacher who was looking for ways to help students better appreciate the language. He liked the idea of using song lyrics, and Usher’s “More” in particular. For easy reference, I reprint the excerpt and devices from the earlier post.

From “More” as performed by Usher
Written by Hinshaw, Khayat, and Raymond

Watch me as I dance under the spotlight-
Listen to the people screaming out more and more,
‘Coz I create the feeling that keep ‘em coming back,
Yeah, I create the feeling that keep ‘em coming back,
So captivating when I get it on the floor.

Know y’all been patiently waiting, I know you need me, I can feel it,
I’m a beast, I’m an animal, I’m that monster in the mirror,
The headliner, finisher, I’m the closer, winner.
Best when under pressure with seconds left I show up.

If you really want more, scream it out louder,
Get it on the floor, bring out the fire,
And light it up, take it up higher,
Gonna push it to the limit, give it more.

Literary devices

Repetition: “more and more,” “I create the feeling that keep ‘em coming back”

Rhyme: more/floor, fire/higher

Alliteration: “monster in the mirror,” create/coming/captivating

Assonance: “patiently waiting,” finisher/winner, Best/pressure/seconds, “limit/give it”

Lists: “I’m a beast, I’m an animal, I’m that monster in the mirror, the headliner, finisher, I’m the closer, winner.”

Antithesis: Get it on the floor/take it up higher

But then the question arose as to which passage from Shakespeare to use. When I used to do this activity using “Mosh,” I’d have students compare Eminem’s use of literary devices in the song to Shakespeare use of the same devices in the Prologue from Romeo and Juliet. But that text doesn’t use the same literary devices as “More,” so we needed another choice.

Et voilà!

Sonnet 130
by William Shakespeare

My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damask’d, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Literary devices

Repetition: red, wires, roses

Rhyme: sun/dun, red/head, etc.

Alliteration: “I grant I never saw a goddess go,” “when she walks”

Assonance: “nothing like the sun,” “then her breasts,” “and yet, by heaven”

Lists: The whole poem, basically

Antithesis: The whole poem, basically

What’s nice about this selection is that many of the poetic devices are actually easier to identify in the Shakespeare, making the activity more likely to succeed in helping students connect with the language.

Shakespeare Teacher: your sonnet sommelier.

Shakespeare Song Parody: Full Stop

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

This is the 34th in a series of 40 pop-music parodies for Shakespeare fans.

Enjoy!

Full Stop
sung to the tune of “Thrift Shop”

(With apologies to Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Wanz…)

Hey, Shakespeare! Can you write some poetry?

Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM
Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM
Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM
Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM Da DUM

ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
ABAB CDCD EFEF GG
ABAB CDCD EFEF GG

I’m gonna write some verse.
Only got fourteen lines in a sonnet:
I-I-Iambic Pentameter,
With a given rhyme scheme.

Nah, take up the quill like “What up? Gonna write a lot.”
Three quatrains and a couplet ending in a full stop.
Ink on the parchment, I’m so close on it,
That people like “Damn! That’s a perfect sonnet.”
Gonna get hella deep, compare thee to a summer’s day,
But it’s all in your favor, ‘cause thou art lovelier, if I may.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Yes!
It doesn’t even have to make sense!

Thinkin’ it, Writin’ it, Let me confess that we two must be twain.
Our undivided loves are one, so shall those blots with me remain.
Sometimes I write for my favorite young man,
Or else it’s the Dark Lady and…
Starting a new one, it’s: O! How thy worth with manners may I sing?
What can praise to myself bring? What can praise to myself bring?
No, for real – what a torment would thy absence prove?
Better entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Immortalized in poetry that I’ve been writin’.
You shall shine more bright in this powerful rhyme
Than gilded monuments besmear’d with sluttish time.
Hello, Hello, Good e’en, good fellow!
Petrarch ain’t got nothing on my rhyme schemes, hell no!
I could take them to the printer, bind them up, sell those.
The tavern gang would be like “Aw, he got the Quartos.”

I’m gonna write some verse.
Only got fourteen lines in a sonnet:
I-I-Iambic Pentameter,
With a given rhyme scheme.

I’m gonna write some verse.
Only got fourteen lines in a sonnet:
I-I-Iambic Pentameter,
With a given rhyme scheme.

Let me not impede the marriage of true minds.
Love’s not love which alters when it alteration finds.
If this be, If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.
Thank God, my mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun.
Her hairs be wires and her breasts be dun.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
Chiasmus, Ekphrasis, Litotes, Ellipsis…
I use all those Greek devices, so much more than any other.
Though I know she lies, I believe my tender lover,
And that allows us both to be flattered by each other.
She be like “Oh, he believes me that I am full of truth.”
I’m like “O, she thinks that I am some untutored youth.”
It’s an illusion, just a mutual delusion.
Full of truth? To think that I’m a youth?
No, I think that I am long in the tooth.
But I lie with her, and she with me,
And in our faults by lies we flatter’d be.
I still love her so.
Those lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said “I hate,”
To me that languished for her sake,
So I wrote her a sonnet, she thought it was great.

She thought it was great.

Good Will! Write some verse! Yeah!

I’m gonna write some verse.
Only got fourteen lines in a sonnet:
I-I-Iambic Pentameter,
With a given rhyme scheme.

I share with you, my friend:
To Mr. W.H.,
These poems that I penned,
With a full stop at the end.

I share with you, my friend:
To Mr. W.H.,
These poems that I penned,
With a full stop at the end.

I’m gonna write some verse.
Only got fourteen lines in a sonnet:
I-I-Iambic Pentameter,
With a given rhyme scheme.

Is that a full stop at the end?

Shakespeare High

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

New research from Liverpool University shows that Shakespeare (and other classical writers) can stimulate the brain. For me, what stood out from earlier studies, was the attention to the duration of the phenomenon:

The study went on to test how long the effect lasted. It found that the “peak” triggered by the unfamiliar word was sustained onto the following phrases, suggesting the striking word had hooked the reader, with their mind “primed for more attention”.

This means that if you’re experiencing a work by Shakespeare, who is constantly throwing these poetic curve balls, you can sustain the brain boost over long periods of time. I’ve certainly experienced this sensation many times. I’ll basically go to see any Shakespeare play, regardless of the venue, just so I can hear these words spoken to me. I participate in a monthly Shakespeare reading group, and feel the effect even more profoundly when I am the one reading the words.

Even seeing the text written can do the job, though I often pause a lot when reading and so the pace isn’t necessarily the same. But the research shows an increase in reflection as well, so perhaps that’s a different manifestation of the effect. I subscribe to a Twitter feed that only tweets the plays themselves, one line every ten minutes like clockwork. Every now and then I’ll hit a familiar line and feel the brain bolt. I don’t know why that should be, but I get my shot to the brain all the same.

If I’m doing something that requires no mental attention, I’ll listen to an audio lecture. If I’m doing something that requires my full attention, I’ll listen to music. But if I’m doing something tedious that needs some focus but provides no mental stimulation, I’ll listen to Shakespeare. I’ll typically choose an audio production that I’ve listened to many times before, so I don’t need to be an engaged audience member the whole time. But I find that I can keep my conscious mind engaged on the task much more easily if my subconscious mind is swept away on a wave of poetic bliss. And when a line or two does drift into my awareness, I know the play well enough that I can enjoy it out of context, much like I do the Twitter feed. I get the hit without having to break my stride.

This is your brain on Shakespeare. Any questions?

Connecting Students with the Language

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Just as we make Shakespeare more relevant to our students by drawing modern-day connections to his plots and characters, so too can we use the elements of today’s world to make connections to his language.

Sometimes when I teach iambic pentameter, I feel like my students can be like the syllables in that very meter: about half of them are stressed and half of them are unstressed. Whichever half you’re in, you should enjoy Pentametron. This is a website that searches Twitter for tweets that are naturally in iambic pentameter. It then somehow sorts them into rhymed couplets and groups them 14 lines to a page.

It’s intriguing to see instances of unintentional meter. Here are a few quick examples (slightly edited in the retype):

I will forever love The Cosby Show.
Whatever, ready for tomorrow, though.
I haven’t eaten anything today.
I really want to dance the night away.
That breakfast sandwich didn’t stand a chance.
So… what’s the definition of romance?
It’s pretty much already Thursday, damn.
Bob Dylan IS the Tupac hologram.

Click through to see many more. Some of the language is a little salty to use the actual website in the classroom, but it’s a good place to find examples of natural language iambic pentameter and with social media cred to boot! Note that these people aren’t deliberately writing in iambic pentameter, but they ended up doing it anyway. This can help you to make the meter less intimidating for students, and to make the point, as some have argued, that iambic pentameter mimics common natural English language patterns.

I’ve written before about using song lyrics to teach poetic devices, but “Mosh” is about eight years old and I’ve been searching and searching for a more recent song that would be just as useful.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

From “More” as performed by Usher
Written by Hinshaw, Khayat, and Raymond

Watch me as I dance under the spotlight-
Listen to the people screaming out more and more,
‘Coz I create the feeling that keep ‘em coming back,
Yeah, I create the feeling that keep ‘em coming back,
So captivating when I get it on the floor.

Know y’all been patiently waiting, I know you need me, I can feel it,
I’m a beast, I’m an animal, I’m that monster in the mirror,
The headliner, finisher, I’m the closer, winner.
Best when under pressure with seconds left I show up.

If you really want more, scream it out louder,
Get it on the floor, bring out the fire,
And light it up, take it up higher,
Gonna push it to the limit, give it more.

Literary devices

Repetition: “more and more,” “I create the feeling that keep ‘em coming back”

Rhyme: more/floor, fire/higher

Alliteration: “monster in the mirror,” create/coming/captivating

Assonance: “patiently waiting,” finisher/winner, Best/pressure/seconds, “limit/give it”

Lists: “I’m a beast, I’m an animal, I’m that monster in the mirror, the headliner, finisher, I’m the closer, winner.”

Antithesis: Get it on the floor/take it up higher

You can have students analyze these lyrics side-by-side with a speech from Shakespeare and compare how the two texts use the same devices. They can then find more examples within the play you are teaching or song lyrics they bring in. They can even start using these devices in their own poetic creations!

Shakespeare Anagram: Sonnet CXVI

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

Sonnet CXVI:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.

Shift around the letters, and it becomes:

The hero’s vivid verse betokens what
Revision moods for marriage norms befall.
Rethinking home life won’t disturb ours, but
Denying some their rights makes shames for all.
Religious voters revved up, think again.
Deem this opinion, not like proven fact.
We minimise Him at evoking men
To harbor hidden love and not to act.
To honor same-sex lovebirds who invest
In that we vehemently do erect,
To think that love should not be too suppressed;
It tends to kick in where we least suspect.
For while the Bard was wed to Mrs. Anne,
He wrote this sonnet for another man.

Under the Influence

Saturday, April 23rd, 2011

I’ve been asked by the good folks at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to participate in a project with other bloggers in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday. The idea is to describe in a blog post how Shakespeare has influenced my life. My first impulse was to decline. First of all, it would require providing a name and bio, and I blog anonymously. Though I’ve linked to it several times, I’ve never posted my full name on the blog. More importantly, Shakespeare’s influence is an aspect of my life I don’t usually like to talk about. But perhaps this is an opportunity. By speaking out now, I can help others avoid the nightmare I have lived through. Because you see, my friends, Shakespeare has completely destroyed my life.

As a high school student, I showed a modicum of potential to become a productive member of society. I went into college as an undeclared major, with an array of exciting career options ahead of me. I took classes in a variety of disciplines, with the naive hope of discovering my passions. I took an acting class on a whim, and the professor suggested that I audition for her play. I was ready to do it, until I found that the play was by Shakespeare. Now, I was always taught to stay away from Shakespeare, but the professor was persuasive and I figured there wouldn’t be any harm in trying it just that once.

I was cast as Sebastian in Twelfth Night. I memorized my difficult lines by rote and went through the rehearsal process. One night, while I was waiting backstage and listening to the play, a single line caught in my ear and made me smile. “Hey, that’s pretty clever,” I admitted. A bit later, another line stuck in my head. “I see what he’s doing there.” Like popcorn popping, the revelations began to gradually speed up. Each weave of imagery, each implied metaphor, each beat of the iamb was like a jolt of adrenaline to my young brain. I was converted into a card-carrying Shakespeare fan.

I continued with acting as well, and in my junior year I had the opportunity to play Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. That was the experience that first sent me down the rabbit hole. No longer just a casual Shakespeare fan, I had become a full-blown addict. And of course the comedies proved to be merely a gateway drug to the harder stuff. My senior year, I discovered Hamlet, and what should have been a year of personal exploration and maturation was completely lost to that play. I would read it over and over, fascinated by the experience of making new discoveries every time, no matter how many times I had read it. Any thoughts I may have ever had of doing anything else were drowned in that play.

I needed more… Masters degree… Ph.D… My dissertation was on teaching Shakespeare to elementary school students. No longer content to be merely a user, I had become a dealer. A pusher. Could I decrease my own misery by dragging down others with me? I was determined to find out. I started teaching graduate-level Shakespeare courses at NYU – first a beginner, than an advanced class. I was completely out of control. I founded a Shakespeare reading group. I started a Shakespeare-themed blog. I taught for the Folger’s summer Teaching Shakespeare Institute for teachers. Conferences. Lectures. Seminars. Nothing was ever enough. When life threw me a curve ball, I went looking for answers at the bottom of a Riverside Complete Works anthology. I re-read Midsummer, and hit Bottom.

And what has it all gotten me? I am forty years old, and I have never held a full-time job. I support myself by working part-time, training teachers, administrators, school-based data teams, graduate students… anyone, as long as it will pay for that next Caedmon audio production of As You Like It. Had I never discovered Shakespeare, never developed that unquenchable thirst, who knows where I’d be today? But I know where I’ll be tonight. There’s an off-off-Broadway production of Measure for Measure in the West Village. Picture it. I walk the mean streets of Manhattan, desperate for a fix. I turn down a dark alley where I see a non-descript door propped open with a piece of plywood. I slip twenty dollars to a kid with purple hair who hands me a program and waves me in. And I know that, tonight, I will get what I need. And for a junkie, tonight is all that matters.

My name is Bill Heller. And I am a Shakespeare addict.

Salad Days

Friday, January 21st, 2011

The sixth-graders I’m working with are studying figurative language now, so we looked at figurative language in a scene from Antony and Cleopatra. They enjoyed the “salad days” metaphor, and the exchange where Cleopatra asks her servant Mardian about what it’s like to be a eunuch.

Cleo. Hast thou affections?
Mar. Yes, gracious madam.
Cleo. Indeed!
Mar. Not in deed, madam; for I can do nothing.

In other Shakespeare teaching news, I met with the eighth-graders who are doing As You Like It, and it looks like I will be working with them after all. And I’ve also hooked up with an enthusiastic seventh-grade class that has already read Hamlet, Much Ado about Nothing, and Romeo and Juliet. It looks like I have a few online classrooms to set up.

More to come!

Metrocard

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop

This is a school in Brooklyn.

This is a student out in the yard
Who needs his Student Metrocard
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

These are the books that are much too hard
For the struggling student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a principal with budget cut short
Who is forced to scale back and is needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the curious student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the yearly progress report
For the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the sleeping student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the panel that serves as a Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the hard-working student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the Mayor who’s closing the schools
And like it or not we must follow his rules
For he chooses eight of thirteen on the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the faceless student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a city in fiscal dismay
That inflated its scores for Election Day
To support the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the hungry student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a state that pulls funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the creative student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is the Congress with heavy mandate
That sends rules but not money to the crowded state
That diverts precious funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the failing student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

This is a country that lives only to borrow
And spend money on yesterday, not on tomorrow,
With the help of the Congress with heavy mandate
That sends rules but not money to the crowded state
That diverts precious funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the brilliant student who needs a card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

These are the teachers who catch the blame,
Year after year it is always the same,
In a country so broke it must constantly borrow
And spend money on yesterday, not on tomorrow,
With the help of the Congress with heavy mandate
That sends rules but not money to the crowded state
That diverts precious funds away
From its largest city in fiscal dismay
That elects the Mayor who picks the Board
That looks at the tests to see how we scored
To issue a yearly progress report
To the desperate principal needing support
To replace the books that are much too hard
For the innocent student who’s losing his card
To get to his school in Brooklyn.

Googleplex – 2/14/10

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

It’s time once again to check in on what searches people have done to find themselves at Shakespeare Teacher, and to respond in the name of fun and public service. All of the following searches brought people to this site in the past week.

was erikson influenced by shakespeare

That’s a great question. I think it’s fair to say the idea that human beings develop in distinct stages was pioneered by Sigmund Freud in the 20th century, when he outlined his psycho-sexual stages of development in childhood. Erik Erikson, a developmental psychologist strongly influenced by Freud, described his own set of psycho-social stages, which carried through to adulthood.

Groundbreaking as these ideas were, they were to some degree anticipated by Shakespeare in his Seven Ages of Man speech from As You Like It. In the speech, Shakespeare describes seven developmental stages that carry through from childhood to adulthood, and the common characteristics that men display at each stage. Freud and Erikson would later codify this scientifically, but the Bard was able to figure it out just by observing the human condition. Point: Humanities!

It’s worth noting that both Freud and Erikson wrote about Shakespeare, and Hamlet in particular, to describe their theories. In a 1962 article entitled “Youth: Fidelity and Diversity,” Erikson actually references Shakespeare’s “ages of man” before spending about four pages examining fidelity and identity in Hamlet. So it would seem that the answer to the question is, yes, Erikson was influenced by Shakespeare to some degree, as was Freud. But influence often tends to be reflective, and the developmental psychologists certainly left their mark on Shakespeare as well.

poetic elements in song mosh by eminem

I touched on this a bit about a month ago. I used to use “Mosh” to teach poetic devices, and I’m having trouble finding a more contemporary replacement. I’ll just give a sampling of each of the poetic devices I mentioned in that post. I tend to use only the middle stanza and the chorus, which I make into a handout. I also distribute the Prologue for Romeo and Juliet as a handout, so we can compare the two.

Repetition: “We gonna fight, we gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march”; “All you can see is a sea of people”; “If it rains let it rain”; “Rebel with a rebel yell”

Rhyme: Not only is there end rhyme, but there is internal rhyme as well. “They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go/ Rebel with a rebel yell, raise hell we gonna let em know”; “yea the wetter the better”; “that we need to proceed”

Rhythm: “Mosh” is written in anapestic tetrameter, which I always point out is the same meter as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”… and other popular poems as well. The Prologue for Romeo and Juliet, of course, is in iambic pentameter.

Alliteration: Note that in “we gonna mosh through the marsh” the words “mosh” and “marsh” start and end with the same sounds. Compare with “doth with their death” in the Prologue for Romeo and Juliet.

Antithesis: “They tell us no we say yea, they tell us stop we say go”; “from the front to the back”; “some white and some black”

Allusion: There’s a reference to George W. Bush in the passage.

Emendation: This is where I edited the reference to George W. Bush. I usually change it to “Stomp, push, shove, mush, [mock] Bush” even using the brackets like a Shakespeare editor.

president bush reads shakespeare

In a 2006 interview with Brian Williams, President Bush claimed to have recently read “three Shakespeares” in addition to curling up with some Camus:

WILLIAMS: We always talk about what you’re reading. As you know, there was a report that you just read the works of a French philosopher. (Bush laughs)

BUSH: The Stranger.

WILLIAMS: Tell us the back story of Camus.

BUSH: The back story of the the book?

WILLIAMS: What led you to…

BUSH: I was in Crawford and I said I was looking for a book to read and Laura said you oughtta try Camus, I also read three Shakespeare’s.

WILLIAMS: This is a change…

BUSH: Not really. Wait a minute.

WILLIAMS: A few months ago you were reading the life story of Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer.

BUSH: Which was a good book.

WILLIAMS: You’ve been on a Teddy Roosevelt reading kick.

BUSH: Well, I’m reading about the battle of New Orleans right now. I’ve got an eclectic reading list.

Williams didn’t ask him what “Shakespeares” he read, but I have my guess at one of them, as well as a selection I wish he’d read.

somewhere in the number pi is shakespeare

The constant pi is nature’s random digit generator, stretching out infinitely long and with no predictable pattern. This means that any finite string of numbers can be found somewhere out in the vast expanse of digits.

So if we were to express the Complete Works of Shakespeare in, say, ASCII code, it would indeed be represented as a very long, but certainly finite, string of digits. This string of digits is represented somewhere in pi, not once, but an infinite number of times. What’s more, the very first time it appears would be a finite distance in. Which means, there is some number X where you could say that if you start X digits into pi, you can read the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Before you get too excited by that, you should realize that X is so unfathomably large that it would most likely be beyond human comprehension to even find a way to express it, let alone come anywhere near identifying it. You may think of the monkeys-at-typewriters thought experiment (and for our purposes, we can consider both the digits of pi and monkeys typing to be generating random characters). Even using theoretical monkeys, the number of simian typists needed would be beyond astronomical.

But, yes, the Complete Works of Shakespeare are somewhere in pi with a probability of 1. If the thought of that makes you smile, I’ve done my job.

what was king henry four’s last name

Henry IV was often referred to as Henry Bolingbroke, but actually, his last name was Plantagenet.

In fact, all of the English kings from Henry II to Richard III carried the surname Plantagenet. This means that throughout the entire Wars of the Roses, the Yorks and Lancasters all had the same last name, which is found throughout the history plays. This is because both sides were led by male-line descendants of Edward III. There is a reference to this in Richard III, as Richard hits on the widow of the cousin he killed:

Glo. He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husband,
Did it to help thee to a better husband.
Anne. His better doth not breathe upon the earth.
Glo. He lives that loves thee better than he could.
Anne. Name him.
Glo. Plantagenet.
Anne. Why, that was he.
Glo. The self-same name, but one of better nature.
Anne. Where is he?
Glo. Here.

The long Plantagenet line comes to an end in 1485, when Richard III is defeated by a young man named Henry Tudor.

rick astley allusion to shakespeare

Rick Astley, before he became well known as a singer, did a bit of acting and even performed in some Shakespeare. Most of his Shakespeare work was done on stage and not screen, but there is a video clip of him performing the “never give her o’er” speech from The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The video can be found on YouTube here.

I leave the task of responding to the remaining search terms to my readers:


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