Sunday, March 30, 2008


A couple of things sent this wonderful word bouncing around in my head today.

First was watching a couple of ‘turtle doves’ flapping around in one of the parks down by the river.

I watched the Kevin Kline Midsummer Nights Dream last night – and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m sure I’ll have more to say on it at a latter date – but today the line, “Begin these wood-birds but to couple now?” popped (not poo, this time) up when I saw the birds.

It was the colour that did it – and the naked young couples in the film as the line was delivered; Lots of very fleshy pink. Same as the birds.

I’d always thought of the birds mentioned as wood pigeons (well, I am English and did grow up in urban Manchester in the 1960.s) but Shakespeare must have meant their close relative, the ‘cooing’ or ‘turtle’ dove.

I’ve a couple visit the shelf outside my kitchen window each morning (sorry, I feed the little buggers); they’ve been around for over a year now. They tried to breed last year – but I think they were too young. The nest they built was destroyed in a storm and the eggs in it smashed. They’re looking at a different site this year. Fingers crossed for offspring.

What’s noticeable (and the constant cooing makes them noticeable) is they are almost inseparable – I haven’t checked but I think they must pair for life. So, when Theseus calls the lovers ‘wood-birds’ and says they are beginning to pair – he has seen more than linkage – it is a fidelity shining through too.

That’s what the flapping in the park reminded me of.

Second bit of serendipity came almost at the same time.

I was reading through Peter Brook’s Evoking Shakespeare and getting fired up to review it when, at the end of what was a talk given in Berlin, he answered a question – and came out with something so simple, so obvious I’d not thought of it (bit like the doves really):

(To paraphrase)

Shakespeare was born with a set of abilities, principle of which being a prodigious memory and a capacity to listen and observe; he used these capacities to the full when he wrote his first play.

At this point of first putting pen to paper he hadn’t ‘lived’ – hadn’t the experiences he would be able to add to these innate abilities to write the later ‘great’ plays like ‘King Lear’ and “eventually the Tempest”.

“… one sees a very interesting relationship between what’s inborn and what is developed by life.” (Evoking Shakespeare, pg 30)

Well, yes – that’s exactly what I want to see in this odyssey through the works, I thought.

How much is nature, how much nurture?

(Hopefully the doves have learnt to build a better nest this year.)

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