Friday, January 26, 2007

Romeo and Juliet - Thou Talk'st of Nothing

"True, I talk of dreams." I dreamed I was teaching a roomful of indifferent students a lesson which would demonstrate the power of poetry. It was a wonderfully crafted hour, and just before I got to the crescendo, a recitation of that masterpiece of understated emotion, Wordsworth's "A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal," the hour ended, they clicked their Bics, picked up their backpacks, and began to leave. So I woke up and thought of…

"Now thou art sociable, now thou art Romeo; now art thou what thou art, by art as well as by nature" (Romeo and Juliet, II.iv.93-95), which I argued yesterday acknowledged that Romeo was realigned with the Montague boys, out from under Juliet's spell. But I forgot the preface to this encounter in the street, the previous night under the balcony.

O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name…
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy.
Thou art thyself, thou not a Montague…
Romeo, doff thy name;
And for thy name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
I take thee at thy word.
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptized;
Henceforth I never will be Romeo. (II.ii.33…51).

Thus, he is notRomeo, until Mercutio revives him. Which, notRomeo or Romeo, marries Juliet? Which steps between Mercutio and Tybalt? Which kills Tybalt? Someday, I'd like to run all the contexts in which the name Romeo appears.

I went back to sleep, hoping to dream what he should change his name to: Pritzpilski? Too alien for Verona. Petruchio? Already taken. Antonioni? It wouldn't scan in all those pentameter lines. I think I could imagine Lady Montague had named her cute little son Monty.

And so (back) to bed.


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