Monday, February 1, 2021

Shakespeare in Winter

It's gray and cold and snowy in Michigan, and whatever the Groundhog does tomorrow, it's likely to stay this way til at least the middle of March. The weather puts me in mind of Shakespeare's descriptions of winter.

Seasonal change is a fundamental metaphor in Shakespeare's poetry. He is fond of the coming of spring. Who isn't? "From you I have been absent in the spring," the poet laments in one sonnet. The Winter's Tale, despite its title, is popping with references to budding flowers and greenery, and its longest scene features a springtime sheep-shearing festival. Twelfth Night takes its title from the Eve of Epiphany, in the first week of January, but its characters, too, spend much time frolicking outside, presumably in mild climes and a gentler time of year. Where, then -- outside of a couple of titles -- is winter in Shakespeare?

We can find it here and there. Here's a verse from the song that concludes Love's