Different Floors of the House

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shakespeare vs. Seuss

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss

So, time fastly flies, this really is true. And to stress that point, I'd like to point out that the first sentence is written in iambic pentameter. Now I'm Shakespeare and you have no choice but to read the rest of this.

I have a one year-old daughter. Actually, she's twenty months, which makes her nearly two years old. Tempus fugit. She's not quite old enough to wheel the red wagon around the back yard and fill it up with flowers, like my older daughter did when she was young, but I know that soon she will, and I know that soon I'll be looking back on that memory just as I look back on the memory of my oldest daughter dragging that squeaking wagon around, spilling flowers all about. The good thing about having a young child in my life is that I get to watch Sesame Street and Barney and Reading Rainbow again...yeah a 'good' thing. Well, the Reading Rainbow we never really have to watch, she's not interested in it really, it's kind of on in the background providing a beat while we do other things around the house or in the back yard. But she can stare at Barney for thirty minutes, that big, dopey...purple...thing. But Reading Rainbow is just good for the short little ditties. It's been nine years since my older daughter watched these kind of shows.
Flies, I say.

Now I find myself mixing memories. Memories from my older daughter, Sara, on mornings with dad and those I am having with Bella, my baby. It's almost like I have had two lives and the bifurcated memories from each come together in some flowering mass. I call it "The Lazarus Effect". I have to wonder if his (the resurrected ones) memories of his prior life haunted him, like mine haunt me...echoes of a former self. Then we get to wonder about anything that is "born again". Like, my purple sage in the garden. A few months ago it was a wilting, pitiful...brown...thing. You should see it now, now it's something Zane Grey would be proud of, in all its majesty. I don't really understand the cycle of rebirth thing. To me it is both tragedy and romance.

"O Proserpina,/For the flow'rs now that, frighted, thou let'st fall /From Dis's wagon!" (The Winter's Tale, 4.4.116-18)

Well, I don't let the flowers fall. They just do. But they come back. As time flies, they come back as something new, something...grander. A mixture of the old and the new. A little of the old life is always left behind, somewhere in the gray mists of winter--or trampled by Dis's wagon--but some remains and becomes a shadowy core in the rising, majestic life of the new radiating flower.

I hate Barney. I really do. Life is really sad when you find yourself looking forward to Antique Road Show. People my mother's age watch that show. I should not be looking forward to it. Such is the effect of the purple beast on me. Speaking of antiques, today on Reading Rainbow they took a break from cultural awareness for five minutes and read some Dr. Seuss. Now, Seuss, there's someone I can get into. Simple genius. Simple genius is something great, so invaluable, yet so overlooked. Like, say, a can opener...or hell, a can. Simple genius never really invents things, they just use the goodness of old wisdom to make new things...mmm...gooder.

I guess we could say the popularity of Dr. Seuss had recessed into its own shady winter. But maybe that's only due to my not having a small child around...until now. But really, I've been seeing him all over the place lately. If the cult of Seuss was dead, he certainly seems to be experiencing some sort of rebirth.

Shakespeare never seems to die. People (like myself) who really know nothing about him are constantly using lines from Shakespeare to prove a point. He is, afterall, the second most written about person in history behind Christ--the ultimate in resurrection icons. The grandness of Shakespeare never goes away because we don't quite get it. Maybe the simple genius of Shakespeare is what gets lost. Maybe it's hidden in someones attic and one day they'll pull it out like some long, lost, obscure Hudson River School painting on Antique Road show. That would be cool. Well, actually, guess what? I was going through some old books, looking for some Seuss to read to my daughter and just happened to find this:

Green Eggs and Ham by Wm. Shakespeare
I liketh them not Sam I am
A pox upon green eggs and ham!
Thou wouldst like them in a hamlet?
Nay, t'would not in a hamlet
Mayhap pref'rest them with a shrew?
Nay less compny'd by witless shrew.
Alas! On boat I would attest it!
Nay, a boat would bid a tempest.
Thou may taste them in Verona?
Not Verona, not Bologna!
Verily, if thou dost try them
Thou mayest bechanced to like them.
Sam, if behind me thou wilt get,
I may feign try them even yet.
Try them, do try them, thou wilt see
thou wilt mind them such as me!
Sam o Sam! What glor'ious fortune favor'd me!
The succulence of't fills with glee!
As fortold, they have pleaseth'd thee?
Thou hast tasted, now can see!
Tell me where is fancy egg!
Or in the heart, or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Oh! Let heav'ns rend asunder
And bolts of rabid thunder
Smite the foolish dotardly man
That liketh not green eggs and ham!

Sweet! Now we're rich! Call the Antique Road Show! Alright maybe not. I obviously just made that crude little poem up. But what is this really that we've found? It's just simple genius. That what Seuss was. You see, Shakespeare's iambic pentameter and Seuss's octameter are intersectory, Seuss knew that, more importantly, he did that. Two lives, two forms: one old, one new, mixed together, like my many memories coming together in some harmonic convergence backed by a universal beat. It's a simple beat, but one that lasts forever through rebirth. So let time fly, let the flowers fall, let the wagon roll.

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