The Bard’s Birthday

We’ve always called him Uncle Will. And we always make much ado about his birthday.

William Shakespeare, April 1564-April 1616

"Then in the number let me pass untold, Though in thy store's account I one must be… Make but my name thy love, and love that still, And then thou lov'st me for my name is Will." ~Sonnet 136

"All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts..." ~As You Like It

"What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god." ~Hamlet

"And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." ~As You Like It

We toasted his memory–and his gift to us all–with gallons of hot tea and a Queen’s Cake laced with rosewater. In recitations and tokens and songs. But it was our five year-old Juliet that stole the show and carried the day.

She stood before us in a too-long gown of her sisters’, tiny braids sticking out of either side of her head, and grinned.

Good night! Good night!” she chirped, like one of Titania’s fairie fleet, “pawting is such–,” faltering with a flicker of dismay. But it was overcome in a moment. “Pawting is such good–,” then she halted altogether at the mouthed exhortations of her mother and sisters.

What?” she demanded, wrinkling up her little nose.

Sweet–sweet sorrow,” supplied her oldest sister in a stage whisper.

“SWEET sowwow,” our Juliet resumed. Then with a deep, dismissive sigh, as if returning to her character in disdain of all distractions, she fluffed out her skirt and went on. “That I shall say good night till it be mowwow!”

We all clapped politely and she bowed with a pretty grace. But in my mind I pictured the great Bard himself watching the scene, slapping his knee and howling with laughter over the great good joke of the thing.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Will. Here’s rosemary–that’s for remembrance…

8 Responses to “The Bard’s Birthday”

  1. Stacy says:

    What a lovely idea! I am so touched that your sweet Juliet already has a love for “Uncle Will”.

    On a separate note, our family has decided to homeschool next year and I would love to hear more about your experience and it would be wonderful to hear from your mother if she could be persuaded to write?

    • Lanier Ivester says:

      Hey, Stacy! 🙂 I’m excited about your homeschooling adventure! I don’t know if you’ve read Chief Among Desires, but this is a post in which I talk about my own experiences a bit.
      And I will see what my mom says…she’s a real pro and a trooper and one of the most courageous people I have ever had the privilege to know (my dad being the other one ;)).

  2. puck says:

    how appropriate that i land here as i hop around the internet looking for rose cake recipes for my birthday tomorrow…

  3. Jodi Lenz says:

    Dear Lanier,

    Your photos made Bron and I swoony! May we come next time? We’ll bring fairy cakes!

  4. Elisabeth says:

    I enjoyed reading this so much – thank you for sharing so beautifully. I could “hear” your little Juliet’s voice so perfectly! I bet “Uncle Will” would have loved the party!

    And from one girly-haired-girl to another, the flowers and greenery in your hair are so pretty!

  5. What a fun idea! I’d never thought about celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday. You have so many creative ideas. You’ll have to round up your book club for a road trip to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival someday. 🙂

  6. Josie Ray says:

    What a beautiful post! Full of grace. Your garland photo is gentle and lovely. Surely Mr. Shakespeare was present in spirit if he at all could be.

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