1 year ago
Sunday, April 22, 2012
"O" is for "Original"
The prompt this week reminded me of Shakespeare’s sad tale of a drowning.
This occurred as a result of a shipwreck that happened some years ago – quite a number of years ago, actually; it was in 1609.
A ship named the “Sea Venture,” which was on its way to Virginia, was caught in a tempest, something that we today would recognize as a hurricane, and crashed on a dangerous island, a bloody spot feared by all sailors of that day because of the rocks that surrounded it – they called it the “Isle of Devils.”
The ship was destroyed on the rocks, but all hands – 150 people and one dog – got ashore and lived to tell the tale.
They had landed on, of all places, Bermuda.
I have to admit that the place has changed a bit since then.
At any rate, the ship’s passengers learned, since they spent months there, that it wasn’t an isle of devils at all; in fact, it was a pretty great place to spend the winter. There was plenty of food: all kinds of edible plants, animals and birds, and the sea around the island was chock-full of fish.
The news about the Sea Venture, when it got back to England, created a sensation. Will Shakespeare read about it and sat down to write a play, named, as I’m pretty sure by now you’ve guessed, “The Tempest.”
For the playwright, the island was a magical, mysterious and enchanting place.
And he filled it with magical, mysterious inhabitants.
The main character of this play is Prospero, who lives with his daughter on this island. In exile, far away from everyone, he has somehow managed to acquire the power of magic to help him in his daily existence.
I’d have to list “The Tempest” as one of the most original and wildly creative of dramatist Will’s productions. The human and imaginary characters, the dramatic and the grotesque, are blended together in what has come to be regarded as a genuine work of art.
Among the various bizarre inhabitants of the isle is kinky Ariel, a sprightly spirit – or a spirited sprite :-) – who flits about in a positive marathon-race of service for his master Prospero. It’s Ariel who tells the poignant tale of the drowned man.
His lines are sad, tender and unforgettable.
“Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made.
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.”
If you’ve ever heard, or used, the phrase “sea change,” three guesses as to where it came from. :-)
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings.)