Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Iambic Pentameter

Marlowe: I'll stick with boys...my horned "actresses."
Shakespeare: More wine! More ale! And buss me quick, my sweet!
Sweet Kit. The play I gave you. Did you read...?
Marlowe: I must confess I have. I thought it, well...
You act well, Will, but...listen, let me read...
"Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
"Comets importing change of times and states,
"Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
"And with them scourge the bad, revolting stars."
At least it scans. But "bad revolting stars"?
Shakespeare: It's my first play.
Marlowe:                                And it should be your last.
Shakespeare: God's wounds! If only I could write like you!
In Faustus, where you wrote...
"To God! He loves thee not! 
"The God thou servest is thine own appetite, 
"Wherein is fixed the love of Beelzebub.
"To him I'll build an altar and a church,
"And offer lukewarm blood of new-born babes."
It chills my blood!
Marlowe:             And so it should, good Will!
Shakespeare: I would give anything to have your gifts.
Or more than anything to give men dreams,
That would live on long after I am dead.
I'd bargain, like your Faustus, for that boon.
Dream: Are you Will Shaxberd?
Shakespeare:                            Aye, sir. Have we met?
Dream: We have. But men forget, in waking hours.
I heard your talk, Will. Would you write great plays?
Create new dreams to spur the minds of men?
Is that your will?
Shakespeare:   It is.
Dream:                    Then let us talk.

Neil Gaiman says on p. 56 of Hy Bender's The Sandman Companion (London, 1999) that he wrote this dialogue (The Sandman: The Doll's House, New York, 1995, pp. 125-127) in iambic pentameter so I have tried to transcribe it accordingly but am not sure whether I have laid out the first three lines of the quotation from Faustus correctly.

This is another parallel with Poul Anderson. Anderson's Shakespearean novel, A Midsummer Tempest, is presented as prose although much of its text is blank verse, one passage is a Shakespearean sonnet and several chapters end in rhyming couplets.                    

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