If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish’d for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
–The First Part of Henry the Fourth, Act I Scene 2, lines 204-207
The above Shakespeare quote is delivered by a young man who knows he must grow up. The speaker is Henry, Prince of Wales, destined to become Henry the Fifth. Seems an appropriate quote for Labor Day weekend, as I sit in a coffee shop and watch people frantically trying to make the most of one last summer holiday.
I’m also reminded of a bishop I knew in Maine speaking of his temple experiences. This was back when the closest LDS temple to Maine was in Washington DC (about a nine-hours drive if you can avoid the half-dozen metropolis rush hours en route). Having previously lived closer and attended the temple more often, this bishop remarked how his spiritual experiences felt more intense now that his visits were less frequent.
In your life, can you think of recurring events which bear a marked intensity because they happen less often?
…it was always yet the trick of our
English nation, if they have a good thing, to make it
–The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Act I, Scene 2, lines 214-216
In the above quote, the comedic character Falstaff rails against the ceaseless cavalcade of Marvel superhero films. Or maybe he’s scoffing at Henry having sent him off to yet another military campaign. Either way…
Falstaff is literally and figuratively a mammoth force in Shakespeare. He sweats cynicism for Henry’s war-driven ambitions, while indulging in equally destructive riotous living. Contrasting Prince Henry, he’s an old man who never grew up.
So, Prince Henry and Falstaff both acknowledge the risk of having too much of a good thing. What do you think? Does your life have too many holidays or not enough? Why?
In addition to offering you good readers a holiday from my poetry, the above quotes come from my current reading project. This summer, while attending the Michigan Shakespeare Festival, I realized I’ve read more than half of Shakespeare’s plays over the years. So I am dedicating the remainder of 2018 to reading the rest of them. You will, from time to time, get a sampling of lines I enjoy most. Hope you enjoy them too!
For a previous dive into Shakespearean verse, read Justifying Mercy in Measure for Measure.
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