William Shakespeare has held no physical relevance to life in nearly four centuries. He has, however, touched many hearts over the course of the past 400 years. Unfortunately, mine is not one of them. My cells were first exposed to the virulent words of William Shakespeare in high school at the tail-end of first semester sophomore year. As most tail-ends, my introduction to Shakespeare involved an utterly feculent affair.
Starting from no less than a pound of flesh, I got my first taste of Shakespeare in the form of a twisted tale entitled: The Merchant of Venice. The Bard of Avon was unable to find a fortuitous foothold in my freshly facetted encephalon. If but one drop of blood had been spilt on a single page, I would have caught the Shakespearian plague. My adventures with The Merchant of Venice are but a dying twinkle in my memories, a stellar collection, but one thing I can remember: the play granted a certain quality of mercy, by which I was saved.
The Merchant of Venice is hardly Shakespeare’s most potent form of infectious verse; Macbeth on the other hand—one of history’s darkest tragedies—would nearly cause me to lose my head. Lines of “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” running in circles ad nauseam, beginning to accept Shakespearian tongue. My defenses down, I stumbled into a deep dark battle with the daunting dreams of Duncan’s demise. I stood to resist chronic infection, Macbeth ripped into my conscience late. Now scared to manipulate fate, the bard formed a deep connection.
The final encounter with this Shakespearian fellow featured a Moore called, Othello. I was pulled in even further than before when Roderigo claims death is a physician. Infected once more, my defenses were struck with newfound force. Refusal to participate in class discussion, time was spent writing words for musicians. Lyrics would flow; poetry came as breath to my lungs. Seemingly lost in my poetic world I listened to every single poisonous line. My attention averted, mind alight; every encounter with Shakespeare yielded a well versed essay—I heard enough to write.
As I mentioned from the very beginning, my experience with Shakespeare was indeed a feculent affair. I say such things to be fair, seeing no importance in reading classics, I did not care. On that note, I must address the most pertinent of questions: just how was it that I resisted infection, if the bard was capable of forming multiple connections? Listening and hearing are not the same word. To listen requires action, but the distracted mind hears verse without intention. And now a confession: to this day, I regret to admit that I did not read a single page.