What’s in a Bard?

Which is more fascinating? To consider the universal appeal of Stratford’s most famous son that has seen him gabbed to the bosom of countries from Asia to Africa to Europe in the midst of centuries of conflict. Or perhaps, the incalculable way that Shakespeare has changed the philosophy of the inhabitants of his island country over 400 years.

Using phrases his plays originated, certainly, almost every day. Drawing allusions, making excuses or finding strength or sense by using one of his characters as well. But also, today experiencing feelings and modes of thinking that couldn’t exist if he hasn’t managed to put them to sheet. He should have been a chief jailer of this language as it bolted into a unified spelling, but instead, as one of, if not the, most influential cultural stones of this small blue sphere he became the world’s playwright. It seems inevitable that will stretch further, his popularity still finding space to grow to ever more popularity. There’s little surprise that Shakespeare’s work can twist and adapt to any time, place or context, but perhaps even less when the latest in the long evolution of a common joke was delivered deadpan in Star Trek VI: After all, Shakespeare is barely better than in its original Klingon.

Decades before, as the Hollywood system quickly fell into Shakespeare’s thrall one of the greatest quotes remains that of Sam Goldwyn: “Shakespeare’s fantastic. And to think he wrote it all with a feather!”

For the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, the Royal Mail’s 10 commemorative stamps took words from Shakespeare’s prose and verse, creating clean, crisp white, black and red stamps that deftly put the St George’s flag into the bard as much as the other way round. Concerned with his death the most prominent part of feature of the stripped back souvenir is the famous curse found at his tomb. The release of those stamps roughly coincided with the apparent X-Ray revelation that the bard’s entombed body does indeed appear to be missing a head.

If gone it is whoever took it is well dealt with by the curse, whether that came from Shakespeare, his family or desperate, conspiring playwrights murking their elaborate, collaborative joke 400 years ago.  And head or not, those words will continue to spread further and further.

Who knows which of these stamps will take words closest to his errant skull?

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