As You Like It!

William Shakespeare’s, As You Like It

Spurr’s evaluation of As You Like It (Shakespeare 2009, pp. 143-348), reveals the overt nature of the words and observations throughout the poem (Spurr 1997, p. 1). First, he notes Shakespeare is letting nature off easy while implying humans are capable of much worse (Spurr 1997, p. 1). They are. Spurr then moves on to infer that Shakespeare’s use of the word ingratitude had been used merely to imitate a natural sound, thereby keeping the meter flowing, but was not there for any other reason (1997, pp. 5-6). I disagree. Each word has meaning when read in the context of the period.

Spurr also comments on the anthropomorphisation of nature, and uses the word ‘ingratitude’ (1997, p. 5), with an observation that it is ‘an abstract conceptualisation making the speaker dwell on its unpleasantness at man’s ingratitude being aurally worst[sic] than the winter wind’(Spurr 1997, p. 1). He is correct in his analysis. Shakespeare does appear to be referring to the ingratitude of man, and as violent as nature can be, it was preferred, although it was a pastoral comedy, composed by, and for, those living in the country making it relative to place and time.

Kovacs views that poetry, ‘emphasises languages musical qualities through rhyme, rhythm, and meter’ (TED-Ed 2017), using condensed language and often feature intense feelings, poetry challenges simple definitions. It is a lyrical, visual, sensual art. Shakespeare’s dramatic piece is a story about the inner journey, as well as the outer. Today we call it the heroes journey (Campbell 2014). It is also, I believe, a political and social commentary on life in the 1600s. Where Kovacs wants to know what poetry is, Shakespeare turned it into art. For me, poetry is a movement deep within each person, and every person sees the same thing differently.

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