Shakespeare has been on my mind this week. My students in Survey of French Literature had a test Monday on the 17th century over such literary greats as Blaise Pascal, Descartes, and the playwright Molière. Shakespeare was still alive and writing in England at the beginning of the 17th century. This week we are having Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors on campus. I'm eager to see it!
I thought I'd see what I had in my files about the Bard and ran across something that I sent as an e-mail iv back in 2003 — what The Hokey Pokey would be like if Shakespeare had written it. As I researched that piece, I found several pages with common expressions and words that were either coined by Shakespeare or at least popularized by his using them in his writing. I'm posting some of my favorites. Now on to The Hokey Pokey....
The following is from the Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything), but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was "The Hokey Pokey" (as written by William Shakespeare), but actually written by a man named Jeff Brechlin.
The Hokey Pokey, in Shakespearean Style
Here are the original lyrics, just in case you've forgotten them. This is the verse with the left foot, since that's the one done in Shakespearean style.
You put your left foot in,
You put your left foot out,
You put your left foot in,
And you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey
And you turn yourself around
That's what it's all about.
Now, à la Shakespeare...
O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke — banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.
Here's a list of well-known expressions from the works of William Shakespeare. Many of these were probably coined by the Bard himself, but it's been said that he wasn't averse to stealing a good line occasionally and putting them in his plays, thereby popularizing them. Some of these will be familiar to you and part of your active vocabulary. Some of them you might use, not knowing where they originated.
A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.
All's well that ends well.
All that glitters is not gold.
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
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