Earth Day and Shakespeare’s Birthday both take place in April, a month known for its showers and blossoms. The poetry month of April resonates with the nature’s big events, and surely that of playwright and poet William Shakespeare’s imagination. Earth Day is celebrated on the 22nd, and Shakespeare gets his day on the 23rd.
Earth Day wishes to bring us back to thinking of hope in the days of chaos, and optimism for our futures during crisis. Each of us has a voice in creating our ideas for, what the future might hold, and what kind of world would we rather imagine. Perhaps a look back in the history will show us, how not to live in the future. From the point of view of conservation, Shakespeare’s times weren’t necessarily better than our more recent past.
“The Shakespearean Forest” is a book written by Anne Barton (Cambridge University Press, 2017). The book handles woodland in early modern drama. “The Shakespearean Forest” puts the playwright’s work within a historical, social and literary world of forests. It also questions, how the forests might have been staged in the early theater. Forests as surroundings were also “stages” for leisure hunting, and preparation for warfare.
Shakespeare’s birthplace, the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, was surrounded by the Forest of Arden. This forest was already in decline in his time. It is believed that during his lifetime, trees were more of a commodity, used as timber for building houses and ships, and functioning as fuel for cooking and heating.
To see nature in a positive light in Shakespeare’s work is not hard though. Nature acts as a metaphor in his writings numerous times. One of the greatest is from “King Henry“: “Let heaven kiss earth! now let not Nature’s hand Keep the wild flood-confin’d! let order die! And let this world no longer be a stage To feed contention in a lingering act.” (Henry IV, Part 2).
There are so many beautiful and accurate comparisons between seasons and our life cycles, seeing weather as a backdrop for actions, and setting its moods for our own. Not to mention how romantic sentiments are created within nature. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 98” is an appraisal for the month of April, a song of Spring.
From you have I been absent in the spring,When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smellOf different flowers in odour and in hue,Could make me any summer’s story tell,Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew:Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;They were but sweet, but figures of delightDrawn after you, – you pattern of all those.Yet seem’d it winter still, and, you away,As with your shadow I with these did play.
The Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington D.C., opened in 1932 being an independent research library devoted to advanced study of the Renaissance and the early modern period in the Western hemisphere. It is a world-class research center with an outstanding collection of editions of Shakespeare’s plays. The Library has one of the world’s finest collections of 15th- through 18th-century rare books and manuscripts from Great Britain and Europe.