The Poet in Residence at Wolverhampton`s radio station, WCR FM – which broadcasts on 101.8 FM and online, has been commissioned to write poems celebrating National Shakespeare Day and St George`s Day on 23rd April.
“23rd April was an unusual date for William Shakespeare” said Ian Henery, Poet in Residence of WCR FM “because it was both the Bard`s birthday and the date of his death.”
Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet and actor and widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world`s greatest dramatist. He is often called England`s national poet.
“23rd April is also St George`s Day” explained Ian “and he was England`s patron saint, renowned for fighting dragons and saving princesses and what was to become Dragon Hill in Berkshire. The legend is that the grass stopped growing where the dragon`s blood fell.”
According to Ian both St George and Shakespeare are linked. “St George became a symbol of English patriotism” explained Ian “because Shakespeare has Henry V rallying his troops to fight the French at Agincourt with the cry: “God for Harry, England and St George”. He became our ideal patron saint because he represented chivalry and helping the weak plus the triumph of good over evil”.
However, Ian believes that it is Shakespeare`s play, Richard II, Act 2 scene 1 which encapsulates any sentiment of patriotism and why Shakespeare is the greatest English dramatist and poet.
“Shakespeare has been dead for over 400 years” explained Ian Henery “and all we have left are his words – but what words! I defy anybody not to be moved by the soliloquy:
“This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house
Against the envy of less happier lands –
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England”.
This is the speech with which our Shakespeare`s tongue
Made music for the world; spoke Hamlet`s heart
And made old Lear`s noble follies part
Of man`s most splendid pageantry; that sung
The sweetest loves of all the world and wrung
The souls of men and makes our pulses smart
For all Othello`s pain and our lips start
With later praise that such words them belong.
Shall we then utter, careless of their power
The words that drew the world to tears; that made
All life a song and love a splendid flower; T
hat beat quick wings at men`s hearts, half afraid
To find the words their common lips could frame,
Shoot like a star, to set the world aflame?