Saturday, 23 April 2011

Home Art Gone

Today is the day traditionally assigned as the day of William Shakespeare's birth in 1564, and also his death in 1616.

Fear no more the heat o' the sun;
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great,
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke;
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak;
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish'd joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing ill come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!

Cymbeline, Act 4, scene ii (for DJO)


Huw said...


Nice picture. Very harmonious.


David Brookes said...


If you don't already know it, I recommend Gerald Finzi's setting of "Fear no More" from his Shakespeare cycle "Let Us Garlands Bring" - ideally sung by Bryn Terfel.

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Huw.


I'll give it a listen, but I'm allergic to actual settings of Shakespeare "songs", much as I like the words. I think of them as the equivalent of the "bit with a dog" (see "Shakespeare in Love") that no doubt enlivened every Elizabethan/Jacobean play, but never made it into the scripts.

If you can take his vocal mannerisms, one rare exception (for me) is Elvis Costello singing "O Mistress Mine" (Twelfth Night) on John Harle's "Terror & Magnificence" album.

Otherwise, all the "hey nonny no" takes people into territory that makes me want to laugh. Peter Sellers had it down with "A Hard Day's Night". Four hundred years from now, I guess people stuck with lyrics but no tune will find similar problems with "Oo-wee, baby" and "yeah, yeah, yeah"...


David Brookes said...


I quite agree about the nonny-no-ery - the setting of "It was a lover and his lass" in Finzi's cycle clearly has to cope with a lot of it (not to mention the hey ding-a-ding dinging birds). But not all Shakespeare's songs come into this category. The Finzi cycle also includes a superb setting of "Come away, come away death" which is as far from hey-nonny-no-ery as it is possible to imagine!

Tony_C said...

Thanks for the poem, Mike.

The more friends you make in life, the more funerals there are to go to...

Don't know if you remember Sam Fenson, and if you do maybe you don't realise what a great bloke he turned out to be once he'd cured himself of al his addictions (including the fags).

Sadly he died of liver cancer a couple of weeks ago after a year or so of great suffering. I'll be attending his funeral on the 5th May.

[Checkword unkliv - an oncological condition of the liver?!]

Mike C. said...


Too true, and it's only going to get worse. No, don't recall that name -- actually, I don't remember ever knowing any Sam anywhere, come to think of it (apart from the son of an old Oxford-era friend).

Your checkwords are getting too good to be true, but I trust you... Those honed crossword skills clearly make you an ace at unpacking sense from nonsense, if you see what I mean.