A Talk Like Shakespeare Day Gift to the Fair Readership that frequenteth This Blog


Talk Like Shakespeare Day!



I urge you all hence forth to speak in verse.
Pentameter iambic would be best.
Hear, O gentles! Also strive to use
in thy fair speech some homage to the Bard.

Maybe you could (ehem… Coulds’t thou not) use the word “Prithee” a few times today, or, perchance, “perchance”?

As a tribute to the Playwright, I offer to you, firstly, a hitherto unknown fragment of an epilogue to the famous play Richard III!

Some others bloggers might, I trow, say that this is an exclusive, first-here-only revelation, and you are forbidden to even think about this post, much less cite it, without credit.

I am not so self-absorbed.  Cite away.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, the long lost  epilogue to

The Tragikal History of King Richard III

ACT VI – Epilogue

RICHARD III, deceased, seated by a grave, holding a skull.

ENTER HAMLET Prince of Denmark, deceased, wearing Wayfarers.

HAMLET [singing ?]:

Brush up thy Marlowe
Start quoting him now
Brush up thy Marlowe
And the women wilt thou wow

But soft!


Ay me!


Whom do I see beside this gaping grave?
Why good ol’ Dicken, Blighty’s erstwhile king
unkindly hacked to bits at Bosworth Field!
Let’s draw near to find his sighings out.


Ay me.

HAMLET [sneaking]:

He speaks!  O speak again chopp’d monarch!


Now is the summer of our afterlife,
made somewhat gloomy by our funeral rites;
and all the clouds that lour’d upon our lot,
in the deep bosom of fair Leicester gather’d.


What ho, good Richard, of that name the third
to wear fair England’s crown, too short a time.
Down seem’st thou to me, and desponding.
Thy so black mood resembleth close that garb
of inky sable I did sport as in
the halls of gloomy Elsinor I moped.
Art thou so dull and drear that thou woulds’t steal
to earthy pit, my shtick to plagiarize?
Thou must be truly vex’d to so converse
with bony chops, by grave and dirt and muck.
Tell me quickly: park you here a lot?


Everyone’s a comic now, I see.
Dost thou permit thyself at my expense
a joke to craft of where my bones did lie?
Give, I pray, the rest of that silence
thou did’st prate on before thine own demise.
If not, begone, shove off, and hie the hence.


Peace, good King.   I do but jest.
In earthly life I was a pill, and now
in heav’n’s joys jocund choose I to be –
and not to be as earnest as before.
In life I would have liked to be a card,
perhaps a jack o’ hearts or e’en napes,
e’en as that Yorick was, whose skull you swip’d.
Come, explain.  Tell me everything.
Why is royal Dicken in the dumps?


Less didst thou annoy when in thy ebon
garb thou wert sunk in melancholy deep.
Inky Hamlet I could bear. But deign
I not to suffer Dane transform’d, in shirt
Hawaiian, cracking wise and gamboling.
But nay, stay a bit and tell me true.
Art thou not mooning still over that blond?
That swimming challeng’d girl? What was her name?
Oprah?  Something on those lines?


Okay okay.  Enough.  Thy point I take.
Cheap shot. Thou art not well dispos’d.
But tell me. What’s the deal?  Get a grip.
Spill it all and list shall I sincere.


Apology accepted, Prince of Danes.
If thou wilt not take thy face hence at once
I’ll unburden’d be.  You asked for it.
Yes, my tomb and long lost place of rest,
beneath that car park less than august was
for monarch royal, e’en one cast down
in wars of rosy houses, white and red.
Now they’ve found my bones and dug me up.
Alchemy scientific they employ’ed
and rituals forensic they performed
upon my matter osseous, my framework
skeletal, my lineage to spy.

HAMLET [sitting down]:

O wizardry most modern!  Tell me more!

RICHARD [holding the skull]:

Studied they my skull, my wounds and hacks,
my curvéd back did they interrogate
until, at last, my bones, renovate,
encloséd were in wooden casket fair.


Much trumpeted was this in media massy.


They bore me thence, a royal tomb to fill
in Martin’s Church at Leicester.


And so?


See’st thou not?  Shall I thee explain?
When thou didst breathe in that vale lachrymose
wert thou not a pious Catholic prince?
Surely thou dost sense the sting that thy
bones in clay encloséd are till doom,
in Denmark, once a land of faithful flock.
The Danish realm, as did the Britians’ isle,
slith’ring slid down into mischief sin
of error and schismatical protest.
Their backs they turned on Holy Peter’s smile,
in separation now circumnutate.

HAMLET [aside]:

What a ranting polysyllabic.
Something bad is eating him for sure.


Woe! More woe! And woe is me!
Thou, Hamlet, royal Dane, must also feel
this piercing sting, e’en in heaven’s bliss!


Hang on there!  Just a second wait!
Dicken, we’re in heaven, see….


… yes I know.
Paradoxical I choose to be.
In heaven’s bliss are we and in God’s sight
replenish’ed by vision Beatific.
But this is yearly “Talk Like Shakespeare Day”.
The cleric scribe who put us side by side
must needs a post for blog readers to write.
We are therefore stuck here, players fretting.


O horrible, O horrible, most horrible.


Shall I say more? List, list, O list!
In course they put my corse in church bereft
of sacrament, of apostolic line,
of teachings clear which no one can suspect.
In angle of a temple Anglican
my bones now lie, far from the Presence Real
as dear to me in life as nothing else.
Entombed am I, unhousel’d evermore.


Ay, there’s the rub!  For in that church
there is no Mass, no priest, no bishop true.


Now for effect dramatic shall I droop.
Though steep’d in bliss, I’ll put on visage sad.
A pair lugubriously blissful now are we.


But shall I now reveal my heart’s true wound?
Near so-called cathedra of Leicester were
my bones with some formality interr’d.
But elsewhere Catholic Mass was lifted up
before my exsequies in that lost church.

HAMLET [glancing at his watch and rising]:

Soooo, there you have it, Dick, my buried friend!
All’s well that ends well!


But wait, there’s more!

HAMLET [aside]:

Who knew…


Long in the past we shuffled off the coil.
Some centuries of years did pass before
a pope of name Iohanine, large of build,
did bishops call into a solemn meet,
second in the place where Peter’s bones
do faithful Christians come to venerate
upon the hill called Vatican at Rome.
There the Council Father’s would mandate
some several changes to the rites of Mass.
But woe again, and woe! For those few points
were seized upon by certain buggy clerks
who then hijackéd all commands reforming.
Though “nihil innovatur” bishops said,
the buggy clerks changed all the black and red.
An innovated ordo did they scribe
and foisted it on Catholics far and wide.
Confusion and decorum’s loss did reign
and no one did the liturgists restrain
from ravages, in power goggle-eyed.
Art did they in, and the noble shrines
builded in love from forebear’s gold and sweat.
They tore them ‘till they bled.  Everything
upon which they could work their heinous spells
they did amend, annihilating despots.
But, heark ye, friend.  I do digress.  I see
that you do stare and wonder at my rant.
Behind thine eyes can I descry the same
indignation and loss of which I speak.
But soft.  I shall be circumspect.
To make the story short, which could be long
in telling as the tale of Trojan grief,
as wending as the paths of him who yearn’d
to see belovéd Ithaca again,
the wily polytrop and trickster sly,
as lengthy as the yarn which Virgil…

[HAMLET consults his watch and looks toward the nearby pub]

To make the story short, an Ordo new,
wholly Novus did they cobble up.
This is the rite by which they prayed when near
the river Soar they offered holy Mass
my once lost bones to reinter with care,
remembrances and prayers.  This is the rite.
They did not use the book for Mass which you,
which I, knew, when we with our mortal step
trod under sun and stars and breathed in air.
They could have used our own belovéd prayer.
For behold, there came another Pope, of frame
more delicate by far, in name twice blessed,
in lore of God and ritual reknown’d.
This pope freed up again the ancient use.
This pope did liberate our hallowed rites.
Rites Roman he unchained, and op’ed the way
for enrichments organic, mutual.
Reason enough, I say, for Summorum.
But no.  The sense that’s common to us all
did stare directly in their faces wan.
I, who lived in century fifteenth,
got Ordo Novus, not tradition’s Mass!
So sit now I upon this ground to tell
the too sad tales of requia of kings.



What ho!  Hail, fellows, and well met.
This Day is called the Feast of Shakespeare,
or something on that line.  We should find a pub.
What’s this I see?  Of somber mien?  Depressed?
What’s up?  What problem could there be in heav’n?
O Richard, of thy name the third, this white head,
which heavy wore a crown, shall hear thee out.

HAMLET [aside]

He had to say it….


Thanks, Lear. But come, let us go.  Our Danish pal
impatient grows the brews at yon fair pub
completely to explore.  Let us go hence,
and there this “Talk Like Shakespeare Day”
observe with beverage apt. It’s happy hour.
And as we go I’ll tell you, celtic lord, what gives.
You see, and stop me if I’ve told you this before,
they’ve found my bones and dug me up!

HAMLET: [aside]

I should have stuck to Marlow.


Alchemy scientific they employ’ed
and rituals forensic they performed
upon my matter osseous, my framework
skeletal, my lineage to spy….


Tech spiffy! Tell, pray, everything.


Richard?  Hey!  Initial rounds on thee.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Lisieux says:

    My liege, your verse excelleth e’en the Bard,
    For verily, the metre runs apace.
    ‘Tis all, i’faith, most admirable sport,
    And reading it, I laughèd like a drain.
    But an it please you, alter one small word:
    For ‘frequenteth’ (third person singular)
    Should be, I trow, ‘frequent’ – the plural form.
    (O hateful error, melancholy’s child!)
    For laying by nice manners, I must crave
    Your pardon, but the error is quite grave.

  2. Reconverted Idiot says:

    What brick through yonder window breaks?
    Aye me, the wreckovator cometh:
    with unknown arts much novel,
    cubic forms to maketh a hovel.
    Lo! Cometh they with hammers of sledge,
    removeth the rails which align the edge
    this sanctuary now with maids adorned,
    they standeth proude in trews much worn.
    Cups holdeth in hands unhallowed,
    Prithee how be this allowed?

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern eat your hearts out.

  3. Yea, verily yea.

    (cf. that well-known Shakespearian tragedy The Court Jester)

  4. Mariana2 says:

    Verily, not being a Native Speekere of Englisshe mineself, I koude only offere thys


    in lieu of an Bardish air about mine speeche.

    I also, fair Lisieux, laughèd like a drain : ) !

  5. A.D. says:

    Forsooth, I confesseth all.
    I saw The Making of Dicken,
    The Third of that name
    In his winter of discontent.
    Yet ye language of the Bard
    Was so fouled by the dialect
    Of peasants from that place,
    of boroughs five, me knoweth
    not the true and unsullied
    language of the master Bard.

    But He that hath the steerage of
    My course hath directed my sail
    To the land of Her Gracious Majesty,
    Elizabeth, the second of that name,
    Through the Tube of You,
    To gladden my heart with a spoof
    Of the game of bats and balls and bases,
    Weaving such a tale of primaries,
    Secondaries, and teriaries,
    That in all manner of such speech,
    In mirth, they giveth the Bard his due.

  6. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Most estimable and most learned Sir,
    Whose pen could vanquish sabres myriad,
    My morning flagon shall be rais’d to Thee-
    Though filled not with wine, but with that drink
    Which long ago Pope Clement hath baptized;
    On this day – called by many feast of Shakespeare –
    Doth mirth abound more freely than spring’s hares
    Famously fecund (and so tasty too).
    So at sunset a platter shall be
    Of hasenpfeffer or all’umido,
    Amatriciana with a fine Brunello.
    Let laughter peal as like the songbird’s tweets!
    Let faces everywhere bear toothy grins!
    Let gratitude o’erwhelm each reader’s heart
    And may this fulsome springtime day o’erflow
    With every wholesome joy and noble thought.
    O brave new world, that hath such cleric in it!

  7. Charlie says:

    I prithee remember the sainted George this heavenly day!

  8. Grumpy Beggar says:

    When this proby of thine Father Z-eth,
    Doth count what words of Sir William’s fine
    Hath ever best been well exprest
    Midst sweetest thoughts Divine . . .

    T’was surely when his verse had wrought
    whilst strolling through the Chesterton’s thought
    A jewel indeed, of rarest find
    Sparkling bright in the cathedral of his mind :

    Tis found in yonder book entitled “The Dumb Ox”
    Where the mirthful Chesterton , wise as fox
    Completes the voyage across the mere, where
    Sir William durst spake, stranded in mid-lake:

    Speaketh the Chesterton : “I prithee good man,
    Weigh well these words as you can, sir:
    If Shakespeare sayeth : ‘ To be or not to be – that is the question ‘
    Aquinas tarieth not in bellowing : ‘ To be !– That is the answer.’ “

  9. FranzJosf says:

    Perchance. I haven’t thought about that word in years; however, both my grandmother and mother used it as part of their regular speaking pattern, almost always in a question. “Did you, perchance, mention your father?” I’ll bet I’m not the only baby-boomer who heard that word used in childhood.

  10. Bos Mutissimus says:

    Enter Raymond Leo + S. R. E. Card. Burke , on the eve of th’October Synod, rallying loyal Fathers and laymen gather’d round

    Once more unto the breach, Shepherds, once more;
    Reclaim momentum from last autumn’s blitz
    We seek no more than faithfully proclaim
    God’s Holy Will for man’s nubility
    But when the blast of Marx blows in our ears,
    Then explicate the Doctrine of the Tiber;
    Stifle the bad news, summon up the blogs,
    Confound fair Kasper with hard-reason’d rage;
    Then pen a high rhetorical device;
    Let printed by Ignatius Press it be;
    Like the Pope’s fanon; let this book o’erwhelm them
    Their errors duplex’d as a stoppèd clock
    And shew to their misled, divorcèd base,
    Oikoinomia’s wild and wasteful face.
    Send forth the mail the Papal Post purloin’d,
    Hold hard the breath and plead the Holy Spirit
    For His full Might. On, on, you noblest Bishops.
    Whose clout is fet from Fathers of the Church!
    Doctors too, that so defended Truth,
    And in Councils from morn till even fought
    And suffer’d persecution for their faith
    Dishonour not the marriage vows; Attest
    That those whom you call’d married doth beget
    And persevere in their vocation-bond,
    And teach them how to pray. And you, good husbands,
    Whose bond was made in Heaven, show us here
    The mettle of your marriage; let us hope
    That thou and thy wives doth beget; which I doubt not;
    The prim’ry end of wedlock is to sire
    And teach them Heaven’s subjects to become.
    I see you stand like Greyfriars in the pews,
    Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
    Follow the Summa, and upon this charge
    Praise God for marriage, fam’ly, and Saint John Paul!

    Exeunt. Alarum, and chambers go off

  11. John Nolan says:

    In Leicester town my bones were laid to rest
    By gentle friars who wear a cloak of grey.
    O’er my poor corse sweet vespers chaunted were,
    And mattins’ dirge, and then that Sacrifice
    Which doth unite the living and the dead
    was meetly offered. E’en my enemy,
    Welsh Harry who did rob me of my crown,
    With his own purse did build for me a tomb
    Of alabaster fair, and graved thereon
    An epitaph which would befit a king.

    Yet this same Harry’s son, a cruel prince
    Who bore his father’s name, did then proceed
    T’assault the Church of God; this hallow’d place
    Was ruined utterly, so men could say
    That not one stone upon another stood.
    Five cycles pass’d until my mould’ring bones
    Were moved from where they lay, and with straunge rites
    Devised by heretiques , once more interr’d.
    Yet in this town of Leicester there now stands
    A noble priory in which friars do dwell.
    They wear a cloak of black and not of grey,
    Their church is named for the Holy Rood.
    In ceremonies daily they maintain
    A rite not alter’d since I walked the earth.

    I did not ask to be interr’d anew
    But surely such a rite should be my due.

  12. Intrepidus says:

    I’faith, good Father Z, mine cap I doff;
    With more than humor hast thou pulled it off.
    Aye! struck a cord I long have felt so keen,
    –As were a knife to rive me ‘twixt the ribs–
    O sorrow, for fair England’s faith bereft,
    For chanced I once to Salisbury’s gallant church,
    Where ‘neath these ancient walls, lords noble lie
    And ladies fair, with Catholic rites interred,
    Yet lie, their mortal relics –here my grief!–
    Where Word Incarnate’s trice-blest flesh and blood
    No longer welcomed is, nor kept reserved!
    For this thy notice, Pater, this good mention,
    But to thank thee was my sole intention…

  13. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    “Prithee thee biteth me.”

  14. Vincent says:

    FranzJoseph – still a word commonly used in my family (I’m 22) by parents and siblings! Not all the mighty words of yore are yet lost…

  15. Andkaras says:

    I proceed thus rashly, to a wedding, I fear, ‘twil proove illicit, by the end of the year. Perhaps, perchance, I do not hence return, Pray the Lord, my dear brethern, That I do not burn.

  16. Someone please be the Garrigue says:

    Forsooth, this act doth require a sound performance. MP3’s, prithee pleas?

  17. Archicantor says:

    @John Nolan: Unrepentant Englysshe heretique though I be, I thank you most sincerely for that beautiful pastiche. It’s not anyone who can turn parody into real poetry. You are the opposite of the bore in Dr. Johnson’s anecdote:

    “I used once to be sadly plagued with a man who wrote verses, but who literally had no other notion of a verse, but that it consisted of ten syllables. Lay your knife and your fork, across your plate, was to him a verse:

    Lay your knife and your fork, across your plate.

    As he wrote a great number of verses, he sometimes by chance made good ones, though he did not know it.”

    You, by contrast, for the pleasure of the combox have turned several very fine verses, and I’m quite sure you knew that you were doing it.

  18. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Until I get up the nerve to try to talk in pentameter (though Ben Crystal entertainingly notes here how often we do that unawares:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FF5K8VlcRI ),

    a morsel of less familiar Shakrespeare, from his contribution to revising the anonymous ‘Sir Thomas More’ (here, from a soliloquy by More shortly after being made Lord Chancellor):

    More, the more thou hast,
    Either of honor, office, wealth, and calling,
    Which might excite thee to embrace and hug them,
    The more do thou in serpents’ natures think them;
    Fear their gay skins with thought of their sharp state [.]

    (The whole play, first published in 1844, is online at Project Gutenberg, purportedly edited afresh from the original manuscript: this is also linked at the audio-drama performance at LibriVox.org, where the original play is attributed to Anthony Munday.)

  19. Tantum Ergo says:

    Barack O’Death

    Witch Sanger: For a charm of fetid trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
    Scissor lance now do thou plunge
    In tiny scull, then suck all from !
    Into cauldron pour the brain,
    Ignoring silent screams of pain !
    Fair is foul, and Foul is fair,
    What wills the Self, the conscience dare.
    Tell the Self: “Tis’ not a babe !”
    To “Choice”, O’Death, thou Thane and slave !

    O’Death: Whence is that Screaming?
    How is it that silent shrieks appall me?
    What cruel instruments here?
    They suck out my soul !
    Will all great Neptune’s ocean
    Wash this blood clean from my hand?
    No, this my hand will rather
    The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
    Making the green one red !

    Witch Sanger: Double, double, toil and trouble,
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble !
    Hail, O’Death, thou Thane of “Choice” !
    Thou Thane of banshee’s moaning voice
    That wails that thou for “Freedom’s” sake
    The breath of one’s own child may take !
    Fair is foul, and Foul is fair.
    What wills the Self, the conscience dare !
    Thy throne secure till Calvary’s Wood
    Doth come against thee, and Gibbet stood !

    The King Returns: Woe ! Woe ! Woe unto thee !
    For what thou didst to these least, thou did unto Me !
    The banshees’ moan no longer sing!
    …O’Death, O’Death, where is thy sting?

  20. Kathleen10 says:

    Words fail, certainly lyrical Shakespeare words fail. Except, thou art all wordsmiths!
    Just brilliant. I stand in awe.
    Fr. Z., I would love to know how long it took you to write that. [A couple hours.]

  21. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    “Shakrespeare”? – did I type “Shakrespeare”? Alas, yes (not one of the different ways he spelled his own name in relaxed Elizabethan fashion…).

    And, I had better add a content warning to the Ben Crystal lecture, which I had watched as far as the discussion of pentameter, but not as far as the bawdy, when I linked it!

  22. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Their backs they turned on Holy Peter’s smile,
    in separation now circumnutate.

    HAMLET [aside]:

    What a ranting polysyllabic.

    – which makes me think (as it was meant to?) of Hamlet’s poem, ” ‘To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia’ ” after which reading out, Polonius comments, “That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase, ‘beautified’ is a vile phrase” (II.ii). By contrast, “circumnutate” is a delicious ‘phrase’ – but, is it a botanical image applied, “to bend in a direction that is continuously moving in a horizontal direction” (or so the Wiktionary tells me), or perhaps formed anew from ‘nutare’ in its post-classical sense of ‘wobble in truth, be unreliable’?

  23. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Hang on there! Just a second wait!
    Dicken, we’re in heaven, see….


    … yes I know.

    […] [ENTER LEAR]


    What ho! Hail, fellows, and well met. […]
    What’s up? What problem could there be in heav’n?

    Interesting! As far as I can see, Saxo Grammaticus’s Hamlet (Amleth) is pre-Christian – as Oliver Elton notes in the introduction of his translation of the first nine books of The Danish History, “In the first nine books of Saxo, which are devoted to heathendom, there is not much save the author’s own Christian point of view that smacks of the New Faith. The apostleships of Ansgarius in Denmark, the conversion of King Eric, the Christianity of several later Danish Kings, one of whom was (like Olaf Tryggwason) baptised in Britain are also noticed.” But I understand that Shakespeare is following Belleforest in modernizing (and therewith Christianizing) the setting. But Shakespeare follows Holinshed in following Geoffrey of Monmouth in treating Lear as a pre-Christian king. Perhaps a future ‘Cry God for Willie, England, and St. George’ Day might elicit a ‘Gregory the Great and the Emperor Trajan’-like account of how Lear got there?


  24. jameeka says:

    Thank you Fr Z–comforting the afflicted is a spiritual work of Mercy, and I laughed aloud at least five times last night—I second Garrigue’s request!

  25. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Fr. Z,

    I’m not sure of the scope or foci of your “Really??”, but I’ll add I could not quickly find an English translation of Belleforest online to check, for Hamlet; and I did not take time to reread all of Shakespeare’s King Lear (or Holinshed or Geoffrey, for that matter), but that is my sense/memory from a fair familiarity with Lear.

    That being so, a ‘supposal’ (to borrow C.S. Lewis’s term from The Great Divorce) as to how Lear got there would be interesting, and you have convincingly demonstrated your ability to combine serious matter and humor in engaging blank verse!

    (In addition to Dante and Pope St. Gregory and Trajan, Daniélou’s Holy Pagans of the Old Testament, translated by Felix Faber, (London: Longmans, Green and Co, 1957) was also stirring in the back of my mind, though I have not read it in that translation.)

  26. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I could not access the Internet Archive when I tried yesterday, but now see they have a scan of Moltke’s Shakespeares Hamlet Quellen with Belleforest’s French and the 1608 Hystorie of Hamblet on facing pages.

  27. Kathleen10 says:

    I need Shakespeare for Dummies.

  28. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    I’m always having to, and liking to, ‘brush up my Shakespeare’. I love the BBC television productions from the 1980s (which a public library might have). But it is enjoyable to compare different filmed versions (including amateur ones, loaded on YouTube) – though unfortunately the more recent, often the more in danger of being ‘ sexed-up’! And Charles and Mary Lamb’s Victorian children’s classic, Tales from Shakespeare, might be fun (there’s even a audio book version at LibriVox.org).

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