Cool Beans Shakespeare It Is

A character named Puck, who is also known as Robin Goodfellow in the play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ mentions the word bean in Act 2, Scene 1.

Thou speak’st aright.
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal.
And sometime lurk I in a gossip’s bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And when she drinks, against her lips I bob
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt telling the saddest tale
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me.
Then slip I from her bum, down topples she,
And “Tailor!” cries, and falls into a cough,
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.
But, room, fairy! Here comes Oberon.

I always have difficulty understanding Shakespeare’s language, because people do not speak that way anymore.  Every language changes over the course of time and some words are pronounced differently now from the way they were in Shakespeare’s days.  Shakespeare made frequent use of the words ‘thou’, ‘thee’, and ‘ye’ and maybe Fandango might say ‘Hear ye, hear ye’, but most writers do not use this phrase. The word ‘ye’ is just a pronoun, which is simply the plural form of ‘you’.  This may be compared to the Southern word y’all, which is a contraction of the words ‘you’ and ‘all, and if you live down here like I do, eventually you get used to that.

In modern vernacular Puck is saying, ‘What you say is true.  That’s me you’re talking about, the playful wanderer of the night.  I tell jokes to Oberon and make him smile.  I’ll trick a fat, well-fed horse into thinking that I’m a young female horse.  Sometimes I hide at the bottom of an old woman’s drink disguised as an apple.  When she takes a sip, I bob up against her lips and make her spill the drink all over her withered old neck.  Sometimes a wise old woman with a sad story to tell tries to sit down on me, thinking I’m a three-legged stool.  But I slip from underneath her and she falls down, crying, “Ouch, my butt!” and starts coughing, and then everyone laughs and has fun.  But step aside, fairy!  Here comes Oberon.’  Essentially Puck is talking about the good times that he has had making old ladies spill their drinks and fall on the ground (by pretending to be a stool and then disappearing when they try to sit).

If someone takes the time to explain Shakespeare, I think that you will find his sarcastic wit and the way he makes very sober statements is actually quite enjoyable.  Many students stumble with Shakespeare and they never get to see the beauty behind his words.  Is Shakespeare too difficult for High School students, or do we just need better teachers that know how to explain things?

4 thoughts on “Cool Beans Shakespeare It Is

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