‘To thine own self be true’ is a well-known proverbial expression which means ‘be true to yourself’ or ‘don’t do anything that would go against your true nature’. But what are the origins of this phrase? To discover those, and why they may come tinged with irony in their original […]
William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, a popular poem to be read or recited at weddings, ends with the couplet: If this be error, and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle analyses the lasting power of Ovid’s great poem Ovid’s wasn’t the first Metamorphoses. Before him, there was Nicander’s Heteroeumena, whose title is usually translated as ‘metamorphoses’, but Nicander’s poem has been lost. It was Ovid’s vast retelling of the […]
This song, from one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies, is sung by the Clown or Fool character, Feste, at the end of Twelfth Night. Some critics have expressed doubts over Shakespeare’s authorship of the song, which may have been written by Robert Armin (who played the fool characters in the […]
A reading of a classic Shakespeare sonnet ‘Not marble, nor the gilded monuments’ is one of the more famous poems in Shakespeare’s sequence of 154 sonnets. The poem is a version of the popular conceit that the poet’s words can make his lover immortal through ‘rhyme’. As commentators are quick […]