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National Shakespeare Day

William Shakespeare is notably one of the most famous men in history: he was a poet, a playwright, an actor, a businessman, a property manager, and a family man. He lived in an era of tragedy fueled by economic crisis, war, and the plague, and yet, he brought joy and entertainment to the people of England in such a profound way that his work is still some of the most popular works in theater and literature to this day.

Some of his most famous plays have been and continue to either influence films and stories or are made into film adaptations. For those who are interested in Shakespeare's stories but are intimidated by the original text, I highly recommend finding film adaptations or recordings of live theater productions to approach Shakespeare's work without the intimidating language.

To celebrate, read some of his work, watch a play or film, or attempt to write a sonnet of your own. A sonnet is a 14 line poem consisting of 3 quatrains (4 lines each of ABAB or ABBA rhyme) and a rhyming couplet at the end. The trick to the sonnet is that it is written in Iambic Pentameter, which means that the syllables alternate between stressed and unstressed, and there are 5 sets of these syllables to a foot. Here is an example:

Marital Bliss

Foul wrinkles in the mirror I do see,

and baggage of another sleepless night

hath blackened mine eyes; 'tis a loathsome sight.

My face is pocked, my hair is luster free,

and, if 'twere not enough to make thee flee,

my thighs are pale and robed in cellulite.

A woman--no, more like a sow 'tis right,

so then, how can thou be in love with me?

But, thy affection is without a doubt

the best hair dye, spray tan, or beauty cream.

To thee, my hellish looks are lovely dreams

of Venus, pure to whom thou art devout.

When I say, "I'm a pig you should detest,"

thy quick retort "'tis bacon I like best!"

The stressed syllables are bolded, and you can count five sets of unstressed/stressed syllables per line. Also, I used an ABBA rhyme pattern that repeats until the final couplet. Sonnets are difficult but fun to create. Give it a shot to celebrate!

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