Hark Thee! It’s National Talk Like Shakespeare Day

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by Anna Geldert, sophomore writing coach

You may have missed it, but this past Tuesday (just two days before Poem in Your Pocket Day!!) marked a very important day in the history of the English language. So gather up your “wherefores”, your “alases”, and your “thees” because April 23rd, mine cousins, is National Talk Like Shakespeare Day!

William Shakespeare was born in 1564. Throughout his lifetime, he came to write at least 37 plays and 154 sonnets. To honor the legendary playwright’s birthday, April 23rd has been named “National Talk Like Shakespeare Day”.

Many of you are probably moaning inwardly right now, thinking back to the struggle of reading Romeo and Juliet in your 9th grade English classes. But be not afear’d! Talking like Shakespeare is not actually as difficult as it may seem. Below is a useful key to help you out with some common Shakespearean phrases:

 

  • Thou— you, when “you” is the subject of the sentence (as in, “Thou art wonderful”)
  • Thee– you, when “you” is the object of the sentence (as in, “Shall I compare thee…”)
  • Art– are, present tense
  • Wert— were, past tense of art
  • Alas!– unfortunately, sadly
  • Thy– your, when “your” is followed by a consonant (as in, “Thy backpack”)
  • Thine– your, when “your” is followed by a vowel (as in, “Thine apple”)
  • Hark thee!– Hey you!
  • Cousins– friends
  • Wherefore– why, for what purpose (When Juliet asks “wherefore art thou, Romeo?” it translates to “why are you Romeo?”, referring to her conflicted feelings about falling in love with someone from the Montague family)

 

If this isn’t challenging enough for you, try adding some iambic pentameter. This sounds daunting, but it really isn’t too bad. The iamb part of the word simply refers to the idea of alternating between stressed and unstressed syllables, and penta means five. So each line written in iambic pentameter is just five sets of stressed and unstressed syllables as seen in the famous passage below:

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer’s lease hath all too short a date

-William Shakespeare, Sonnet 18

 

Shakespeare also employed the use of rhyming couplets in many of his plays and sonnets, indicated by the underlined in Sonnet 18. He typically followed a simple AABB or ABAB format, rhyming the last words of each two lines in a row or every other line.

Personally, my favorites are the Shakespeare’s insults. There are no shortage of foul language used to badmouth an enemy. In Shakespeare’s world, if someone was being obnoxious you might call them a “lump”, or a “foul deformity”. The insults gradually increase, ultimately amounting to “Banbury cheese”, “three-inch fool”, and “frusty nut with no kernel”.

Hopefully with this explanation, you will be able to breeze your way both through English class and through National Talk Like Shakespeare Day! You can also stop by the Writing Center today, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, to grab a sample of Shakespeare’s work. Farewell, fellow sirrahs and mistresses, and good luck to thee!

 

National Poetry Month

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by Urmee Das, sophomore writing coach

Poetry! Whether it be the dramatic and lengthy epic or the short and funny limerick, it holds a deeper than surface meaning that other literature doesn’t. There’s something incredible about being able to communicate and understand themes through words without the general limitations. Poems hold a uniqueness that carries over to its readers. No two people read a poem the same way. What you think a poet is trying to tell the reader may be completely different from someone else, and that’s why it’s important!

Poetry makes us think. You might hate it in English class; our seemingly never-ending days of analysis may have created some bias against it, but it’s is an insider’s perspective into the poet’s mind! To read a poem without thinking about the hidden nuances is not only a disservice to the poet, it’s also a disservice to yourself. Use the words they gift you to interpret what you think it means. It’s almost like a voyage or a cruise. The poet is the captain, and you get on the ship for a trip that you can read, listen to, and feel. Follow the rhythm, beats, and sounds and you will end up with a better understanding of the world around you.

Take “The Ecchoing Green” by William Blake. He talks of Spring and the happiness that resounds with it. The first two stanzas provide examples of the “welcoming” of Spring, from the sun to an old man. However, the poem takes a shift in the last stanza. The sun sets and the fun ends. Spring breathes its final breathes and sinks beyond the horizon. Blake uses sensory details to call out to our ears, eyes, and nose. If you allow yourself to picture it, you truly are in a field, hearing bells and laughing with friends as Spring comes around, only to leave again.

 

The sun does arise,

And make happy the skies.

The merry bells ring

To welcome the Spring.

The sky-lark and thrush,

The birds of the bush,

Sing louder around,

To the bells’ cheerful sound.

While our sports shall be seen

On the Ecchoing Green.

 

Old John, with white hair

Does laugh away care,

Sitting under the oak,

Among the old folk,

They laugh at our play,

And soon they all say.

‘Such, such were the joys.

When we all girls & boys,

In our youth-time were seen,

On the Ecchoing Green.’

 

Till the little ones weary

No more can be merry

The sun does descend,

And our sports have an end:

Round the laps of their mothers,

Many sisters and brothers,

Like birds in their nest,

Are ready for rest;

And sport no more seen,

On the darkening Green.

 

What do you think when you read this poem? Do you think of the happiness of Spring, the joy that comes with Winter’s end? Do you look forward to the (hopefully) upcoming days of sun and full bloomed flowers and fauna? Or, does the final stanza create an importance in the true fleeting nature of the seasons; how does the word choice near the end instill a sense of hopelessness and a need to enjoy things while they last?

Reading a poem is an incredibly personal experience. When reading a poem, you’re led to think about meanings and choices that relate to you. What does this word mean? Why did the poet choose to use it? Is it supposed to symbolize something greater? This month, take some time to read or write a poem. Come visit the writing center for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Take time to enjoy this much beloved art form!

Fun at the Farmers’ Market

SeyoungBy Seyoung Lee, junior writing coach

After a seemingly never ending stretch of snow, ice, and inhospitable temperatures, spring is finally here! What does that mean for us Minnesotans? Picnics in the park, eagerly awaiting ice-out, and my personal favorite: farmers markets.

Farmers markets take place weekly all over Minnesota throughout spring and summer and always carry locally sourced produce. They’re an excellent place to go for fresh fruits, vegetables, and all sorts of miscellaneous goods. My favorite market is located just a couple miles down the road from our high school on Water Street in Excelsior. Weather you’re looking for produce, cheese, smoothies, or even bandanas for pets, this market has it all!

The Excelsior Farmers’ Market brings our community together and truly exemplifies the spirit of Minnetonka. Each week, crowds of people bustle from stall to stall to see the unique variety of products and enjoy the fresh air. People of all ages take advantage of the market, and their beloved canine buddies often tag along too. Live music echoes throughout the street, whether it’s the quaint folk trio, barbershop chorus, or the two young brothers who play piano and guitar for charity.

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Last year, I was invited to sell baked goods as a vendor which gave me the opportunity to experience the market from a different perspective. This was a highlight of my spring and summer because I got a behind the scenes look into an event I’d always looked forward to.

To be completely honest, it was hard work. It required lots of planning, filling out forms, and time. There were more rules than I ever could’ve imagined coming from the health department, city of Excelsior, the market itself, and even the fire department. It required staying up late and sometimes waking up early just to finish baking. On top of all that, I had to be very punctual so that the things I needed to get done didn’t interfere with the preparations of other vendors.

Despite these challenges, selling baked goods at the farmers market has been one of the most fun and valuable opportunities I’ve ever had. It’s taught me about organization, anticipating issues before they arise, and so much more. The connections I’ve made with regular attendees, friends who come to visit my stand, and camaraderie among vendors made the experience well worth it.