Dear William Shakespeare,
Let’s suppose I could write this letter and you could read it, separated by hundreds of years and thousands of other, smaller life details. I could as a few things on behalf of millions of people who know your name, but I won’t, because in the odd chance of a reply, I think we’d be better with the mystery anyway.
From London to Stratford-upon-Avon, my friend said something along the lines of: “I know there’s those rumors about Shakespeare’s works actually being written by an earl, and I don’t think they were, but even if– it wouldn’t make any difference. What really matters is the idea of Shakespeare, and what the works say about the human experience.”
I’ve never really thought about that. I’ve heard those rumors too, but discounted them with no real reason despite the want of pride in one man and the controversy surrounding him. Then there’s this phrase thrown around, “the human experience,” and while I understand its meaning, I wonder if it misses the point. I wonder what you would say to it.
The experience: a day trip to a town and a castle.
The human: myself.
The human experience: life.
This last one seems to be a great leap, going from a series of events to encompassing a time from the beginning of consciousness until death, which perhaps may be the ceasing of consciousness.
I wanted more out of Stratford-upon-Avon. I wanted to interact with your aura, but if it was there, we must have missed paths. I wanted to understand you as a man, to have seen those streets as your streets, those buildings and rooms as places you had stayed in, lived in, cried and wrote and shouted in. But they were full of tourists, modern conveniences, overwrought descriptions and overlooked explanations.
But to see a play in your theatre– that was something else. Antony and Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Globe by the Thames. The bus had been late, and so I had run through the throngs of people, panting by the time I reached the gate and the woman who took my ticket. I slipped in through the curtains to stand with the rest of the groundlings and felt a glimpse of your immortality.
The crowd on the ground laughed together, sighed together. I looked up and the seated people seemed more stoic than those of us getting sunburned and with aching legs and thought: this is how it’s always been, this is how it will always be. A girl up there was nodding her head, falling asleep: “Don’t you know what you’re missing?” I shouted, “This is history: this is it. This is what it means to be human.”
So that then, I suppose, is the human experience– she was right, you captured it somehow.
Another human experiencing,