Ode to Friday: Shakespeare


Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.

~ William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5, ll.19-28 (English, 1564-1616)


Image: Victor Pasmore, Sensory World 4, 1997


9 thoughts on “Ode to Friday: Shakespeare

    • That’s what struck me too. Come back to it after years and, bam, get knocked out!

      How was it that he understood everything, and created a means by which to communicate it that generates awe in different cultures, different languages, hundreds of years later? And people dismiss the possibility of the unexplainable in the world …


  1. One of the greatest moments in Western civilisation, if I may be so bold. And here it is in one of the best renditions ever (with a clear position of how Lady M died).

    I wonder if anyone has ever done a count, but that speech has provided lots of titles for other works. There is a poem by Robert Frost called “Out, Out . . .,” a book by Alistair Maclean titled The Way to Dusty Death, and of course the Sound and the Fury by Faulkner. Not sure about any others.


  2. What do you think makes Shakespeare’s work endure? I know the themes are ones that stretch through time because they are so fundamentally human, but is there something else? I never really was drawn to his work, so I am curious….


    • If I think about what occurred to me when I read this again there are at least two things for me.

      There’s the satisfaction of having to work to decipher what he’s saying because of the old phrasing, and then suddenly one deciphers it and there before you is something that takes the breath away in its subtlety and complexity. I feel richly rewarded for the work; whereas, sometimes I might try to decipher other texts and the results are disappointing.

      Then there’s the profundity itself. Here Shakespeare presents the central insight of Eastern philosophy and religion: the world is empty and meaningless. What we take to be the world is the tale we’re telling ourselves. We are all deluded, all idiots, all fools.


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