This is the day we celebrate both the birth and death of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).
No lover of England or the English language can ignore the primacy of Shakespeare for the beauty of his language, the brilliance of his plots, or the emotion his work engenders.
Most beloved, most admired, most quoted: “To be, or not to be. That is the question.”
Just one of the many from Hamlet.
Here is Victoria’s favorite from the Sonnets, Number 29.
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
Shakespeare's Statue in Leicester Square, London