Monday, February 4, 2013

Monday's Poetry: The Monologue of Richard III

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Word comes today that the centuries-old skeleton recently unearthed from beneath a parking garage in Leicester, England, appears to be that of Richard III, the last British monarch to be killed in battle.   Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, was mortally wounded in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 by the forces of the man who would be crowned King Henry VII, the first Tudor monarch.  Richard's death essentially brought the War of the Roses to an end.

Richard III was immortalized by playwright William Shakespeare in one of the Bard's earliest tragedies.  Shakespeare depicted Richard as a deformed (hunchback) and conniving individual who would do whatever was necessary to secure the crown of England for himself, to include murdering numerous individuals.  Three of the deaths that Shakespeare attributed to Richard were those of his own brother and two young nephews, all of whom had more claim to the throne of England than Richard.

Identification of the skeleton was based on a comparison of its wounds with historical accounts of Richard's death.  There was also a DNA match with a descendant of Richard's sister - with the surprised Canadian descendant not realizing that he had any blood connection to British royalty.  It was also revealed that the man whose skeleton was recovered under the parking garage suffered from scoliosis, a condition that gave some credence to Shakespeare's description of the monarch suffering a deformity of the back.

Current plans are to re-bury the maligned monarch at an Anglican cathedral in Leicester, a move being opposed by some Catholics who rightly state that Richard was a member of their religion.  Burial in Leicester would serve the primary purpose of the modern monarchy - that of being a tourist attraction.

Wherever they plant you Richard, please try to rest in peace - this time.

The following is Richard's Monologue which comes at the beginning of Shakespeare's Richard III.   It gives a good overview of the character and his dark thoughts.  The meat of the first line was lifted by John Steinbeck centuries later for the title of his last novel.

Richard III's Monologue
by William Shakespeare

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that lowered upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front,
And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
I, that am rudely stamped, and want love's majesty
To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion,
Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature,
Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time
Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them--
Why I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to see my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determinèd to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
By drunk prophecies, libels, and dreams,
To set my brother Clarence and the king
In deadly hate the one against the other;
And if King Edward be as true and just
As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
This day should Clarence closely be mewed up
About a prophecy which says that G
Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul -- here Clarence comes!

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

His Majesty made the noon show on KCTV5. Of course they teased the story before a commercial break, asking who was buried. Heard it first on the Ramble!