"..a bardy view!"

True Bard

Having a blog called Bardiness would indicate an affinity with William Shakespeare. However it is merely a play on words, but originated from the moniker "Bard".


I have read just about everything that Bill the Bard produced, over and over, and each time am induced with admiration at every turn of phrase, every nuance, every plot and every rendition.

Yet during my schooling I cannot recall a single reference to him on the curriculum. I am purely self-taught. Over the years I have attended countless plays at the theatre, visited his birthplace and watched his output at the cinema.

Indeed, whenever I'm overseas I always look for a production of some sort. I have viewed them in both contemporary and modern forms, and through dance and music.

Although I'm a traditionalist, I'm astonished at how much of the work can be interpreted for the 21st century. For actors it must be the greatest thrill to be a part of such productions.

Much of what we use in common parley are attributed to Shakespeare. Most we use so naturally that we are astonished to learn they originate from one of his plays or sonnets.

All our yesterdays (Macbeth)
All that glitters is not gold (The Merchant of Venice)
As luck would have it (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
All's well that ends well (Title of same)
Bated breath (The Merchant of Venice)
Be all and end all (Macbeth)
Beggar all description (Antony and Cleopatra)
Best foot forward (King John)
Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)
Blinking idiot (Merchant of Venice)
Brave new world (The Tempest)

And that's just a fraction of the A's and B's. It would be a mammoth task to go through the alphabet.

But going down to "W", how about:


Wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello)

What's done is done (Macbeth)

What's in a name (Romeo and Juliet

What the dickens (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Wild goose chase (Romeo and Juliet)

World is my oyster (Henry IV)

Take "The Winters Tale" for example. There are just too many to reference:

caught red-handed
all the world's a stage
as white as the driven snow
bated breath
the course of true love never did run smooth
the green-eyed monster
lovers and madmen
method in his madness
sweets for the sweet
violent delights have violent ends


And just a few from Hamlet:

Cruel to be kind
minds eye
more in sorrow than in anger
something rotten in the state of denmark
take arms against a sea of troubles
to be or not to be
to the manor born
to thine own self be true
Neither a borrower or lender be
Frailty, thy name is woman
Goodnight sweet prince

Then there is:

Good riddance (Troilus and Cressida)
Into thin air (The Tempest)
Star crossed lovers (Romeo and Juliet)
One fell swoop (Macbeth)
Budge an inch (Measure for Measure)
Apple of ones eye (Love's Labours Lost)
Tower of strength (King John)
Play fast and loose (King John)
The games afoot (Henry IV)
eaten out of house and home (Henry IV)

The list is endless and most people quote Shakespeare without realising it. Whilst it's not known if many of these phrases were in use prior to Shakespeare using them, he must be credited with helping them survive.


I'm moved to write this post because I have just treated myself with the RSC's Complete Works.

It's a beautiful volume, brilliantly put together, and extremely educational with background information and origins and meanings of words and phrases.

Although a paperback, it's as heavy as a brick and just as thick. And all for a under a tenner.

Anyone reading this would be well advised to add it to their bookshelves.

But don't have it as an ornament – dip into it anytime and be enthralled.

Discover the magic of the Bard (the real one!).


September 26, 2009 - Posted by | Arts | , , , ,


  1. I cannot believe old Will was not part of your curriculum. It was standard at my school in Rhodesia, every year without fail a different play for English Literature. Moreover every year the third term concert was devoted to a Shakespeare play. Loved it until such time as we got a new headmaster who decided there was a direct corelation between boys starring in the play and failling their final A level exams, so he stopped it. Technical drawing was instituted instead. More’s the pity.


    Comment by Spook | September 26, 2009 | Reply

  2. Not necessarily A levels but all Gce’s.


    Comment by Spook | September 26, 2009 | Reply

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