In the British (or rather, English) calendar at the end of April, one day brings together two strands of English identity; April 23 is not only St. George’s Day, a day set aside for England’s patron saint, but also the anniversary of the birth – and death – of the country’s greatest and most celebrated cultural export, William Shakespeare.
Many of you can no doubt cast your mind back to unending afternoons at school trying to discern the meaning in what felt like unintelligible English whilst studying Shakespeare’s plays. Distance, and experience, means that today we are all more receptive to the ideas and concepts that the Bard of Avon set out in his works that even now continue to pack out theatres and sell cinema tickets.
In the spirit of his success and on his life/death anniversary, below is a compilation of quotes from the playwright’s pen, touching on concepts that many readers of ICT Views will be familiar with.
- "I have seen corruption boil and bubble ‘til it oerrun the stew." (Measure for Measure)
Corruption may start small, and may begin by being contained, but by its very nature it is corrosive and eventually tends to ‘oerrun the stew’.
- "Corruption wins not more than honesty." (Henry VIII)
Despite its corrosive nature, corruption – and the corrupt – do not always prevail over those who are honest and go about their conduct with integrity.
- "Out of this nettle – danger - we pluck this flower - safety." (Henry IV, Part 1)
This line is about risk; from dangerous or risky situations we can intuit the correct, right or ‘safe’ thing to do.
- "The path is smooth that leadeth on to danger." (Venus and Adonis)
Another risk-related concept. Failing to spot warning signs (or raise red-flags, for instance) makes for an easier life now but creates problems later.
- "A right judgement draws us a profit from all things we see." (Cymbeline)
A balanced, rational view is the best way of assessing a situation to discern an accurate analysis.
- "There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries." (Julius Caesar)
Lines spoken by Marcus Brutus, who would go on to murder Caesar before being killed in battle. His seizing of opportunity did not lead to a fortune.
- "The purest treasure mortal times afford is spotless reputation – that away, Men are but gilded loam, or painted clay." (Richard II)
Something which perhaps those named in the Panama Papers should remember: your reputation is worth more than any wealth you can amass.
And to finish on an uplifting life-quote…
- "He that wants money, means, and content is without three good friends."
These are the three things that, according to Shakespeare, are needed for a life well-lived: money, a rewarding job and good friends.
Happy St. George’s Day.