On Shakespeare by John Milton 1608-1674


What needs my Shakespeare for his honour’d Bones,
The labour of an age in pilèd Stones,
Or that his hallow’d reliques should be hid
Under a stary pointing Pyramid?
Dear son of Memory, great heir of Fame,
What need’st thou such weak witnes of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thy self a live-long Monument.
For whilst to th’ shame of slow-endeavouring art,
Thy easie numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalu’d Book
Those Delphick lines with deep impression took,
Then thou our fancy of it self bereaving,
Dost make us Marble with too much conceaving;
And so Sepulcher’d in such pomp dost lie,
That Kings for such a Tomb would wish to die.

The poem was originally published as “An Epitaph on the Admirable Dramaticke
 Poet, W. Shakespeare,”. Though Shakespeare’s death occurred fourteen years
 before the composition date, Milton concentrates on the immortality of his art 
rather than on the sadness of his death.
Modern authors are still using Shakespeare for inspiration "The Shakespeare
 Project", will feature a broad spectrum of current authors using his plays
 as inspiration for new novels. The first in the series is
 Howard Jacobson's "Shylock is my Name" which
is a retelling of the Merchant of Venice from Shylock's point of view. The second
book is "Vinegar Girl" by Anne Tyler. Vinegar Girl takes another look at "The 
Taming of the Shrew."
Other upcoming works include Margaret Atwood's reworking of "The Tempest",
 Jo Nesbo exploring"Macbeth" is as a noir thriller, and Jeannette
 Winterson creating a new version of "The Winter's Tale".


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