SHAKESPEARE ALOUD

Venus and Adonis in Prospect Park – Part 1

What an exquisitely beautiful day here in Brooklyn. I’ve decided to dive into this most epic of love poems – Shakespeare’s first of this kind, and the one that made him first famous in London as a poet.

It is completely enchanting. It speaks of so much imagination – or personal experience – or wish fulfillment – or just pure muse. Venus wants Adonis so much, she will use every arrow in her quiver to get him to love her. We must believe these two the most beautiful creatures alive. She a god and he a god on earth.

It is a rather steamy poem I must say. I have been finding it interesting recently how innuendo could be so thinly veiled and so graphic back then – when so little skin was allowed to be shown in public. It’s sort of the inverse today. We show as much sex appeal to the eyes as possible, and sexual meaning is sought and identified in the most irrelevant places. Who has a friend that loves to say the following:

“That’s what she said.”
“Paging Dr. Freud.”
(Or my favorite): “Sorry, Freudian avalanche.”

It’s like it’s a game of riddles – whose mind is deepest in the gutter. Of course we have from Oscar Wilde – “We are all in the gutter – but some of us are looking at the stars.” Wilde knew his innuendo, I’m sure. But probably didn’t pounce like the that’s-what-she-said crowd. I like to think he waited until he had the most clever, or most beautiful, or perhaps even the most philosophical thing to say.

Apparently so did Shakespeare. Because this poem sparkles with all the invention, clever detail, and masterful sense of ecstasy and beauty as does the most striking Rococo painting you ever saw.

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