Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Exit, pursued by bear

William Shakespeare includes this as a stage direction in The Winter's Tale, a play I was riffling through this morning after one of my bright students (one of the ones that makes me feel happily as though there are fireflies in my brain) started asking about Shakespearean allusions in a Tennyson poem.

Anyway: bright student (yay!), skim of a play originally read 16 years ago (surprisingly also yay!).  In addition to the bear, WT features an abandoned baby (only Shakespeare can pull this off in a romantic comedy) and, apparently, an animated corpse/ statue.

It also features these lines in a song by thief/ villain  Autolycus:

Lawn as white as driven snow,
Cypress black as e'er was crow,
Gloves as sweet as damask roses,
 . . .
Pins and poking sticks of steel
what maids lack from head to heel!

Come buy of me, come, come buy come buy (IV.iv. 219-230)

Is this not strikingly like Christina Rossetti's "Goblin Market"?

Morning and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry
"Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy:
Apples and quinces
Lemons and oranges
Plump unpecked cherries
Melons and raspberries
. . .
Come buy, come buy (1-19)

Gosh it sounds like an allusion. 

I'm sure that in the last 150 years, some other scholar has noticed the link, but right now it's a private delight to think that only I have been brilliant enough to see this (and thank-you, again, to my bright, sparkly-minded student).

I am in my office, chased here by bears (aka fellow faculty with things they need me to do asap).

As I write, I eat my lunch of rice and beans with collards.  I'm sure it makes me, by the second, duller of wit and more like A.A. Milne's bear, in other words Winnie the Pooh, a "text" I also studied this morning, early and with Winton and Clara, with particular attention to the scene in which Pooh gets jammed in rabbit's doorway. 

Soon I will feel sluggish and corpulent (though happy--I like the full/dull feeling), with my ass jammed firmly in a place I don't want to be (in my case a nest of paperwork/ busywork) while my head is stuck idly watching the world go by.

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