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Sunday, 29 January 2012

A Wild Goose Chase


Greylag Geese (Anser anser) in flight: photo by Michael Maggs, 3 July 2008

Come between us, good Benvolio; my wits faint.
Switch and spurs, switch and spurs; or I'll cry a match.
Nay, if thy wits run the wild-goose chase, I have
done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of
thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five:
was I with you there for the goose?
Thou wast never with me for any thing when thou wast
not there for the goose.
I will bite thee by the ear for that jest.
Nay, good goose, bite not.

Startled by the approach of the photographer, the Greylag Goose takes off, near Kromenie, The Netherlands: photo by Jens Buurgaard Nielsen, 17 April 2006

Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting; it is a most
sharp sauce.
And is it not well served in to a sweet goose?
O here's a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an
inch narrow to an ell broad!
I stretch it out for that word 'broad'; which added
to the goose, proves thee far and wide a broad goose.

A skein of Greylag Geese in flight, near Krommenie, The Netherlands: photo by Michael Hanselmann, 2007

William Shakespeare: from Romeo and Juliet, II.IV


ACravan said...

Thank you for taking care of the often ignored goose. Every day we have a great deal of goose aerial activity here and our parakeets are acutely aware of and in touch with the geese out their window. Great pictures. It was also fun (and educational) looking up the words I didn't know. Curtis



How good to see that Romeo and Mercutio are still at it, going toe to to with such great photos -- As Feste says, "A sentence is but a chev'ril glove to a good wit. How quickly the wrong side may be turned outward."


pink cloud in pale blue sky above still
black ridge, wind moving through leaves
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

through mass of water which
moves over it, memory

still, “closed” rather than
that, which was given

first orange of sun rising above ridge,
circular green pine on tip of sandspit

TC said...

O to be a Greylag in Norfolk in the summer time!

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

Looks like being a Greylag in summer beats being a galvanized double-bucketeroo Greyhead any day! Time to migrate?

TC said...

Absolutely -- were one not lacking wings, energy and a passport.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Beautiful images, video ... magisterial birds.

I'm drown'd in the Shakespeare though - how very much I do not comprehend in so few lines.

Found some annotations which cleared up some of the fog.

The wordplay on (in) cheveril, as noted here, positively dizzied me, though (perhaps there is another kind of stretching going on?)...

TC said...


I've wondered myself whether in this exchange of thinly-veiled insults, "stretching" might not have been double-entendre-intended, as per the contemporary usage, to mean "suspending", a form of second-hand masturbation performed for hire, by use of a sort of ingenious string-tie-and-plumb-bob device.

Byron, in insulting Keats for "frigging his imagination", uses the figure of "suspension" in the third letter-excerpt here.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Yes, in the larger context of the play, as WS establishes the relationship between M an R, this makes something like sense.

We are always inventing ingenious little devices, eh, we little boys?

The Byron/Keats 'exchange' is pretty intense. I love the way Keats held his ground figuratively and even evokes Will himself as justification, while still managing to toe the high road.

If you pardon the ribald punning, pretty ballsy by Keats, giving in his own way as good as he got.

Me thinks LB protests just a tad much ...

PS Where did the placard come from? I take it from the comment that one of your students says you used it in one of your classes.

TC said...


Yes, Keats (really, Keats's poetry, not the person -- Byron had never met him) really got under Byron's skin.

A world of class difference separated the two of them.

It's that old saw about the many mansions. The manor and the other side of the tracks.

What you call the placard was a 48" x 36" sheet (verso of recycled architectural plan!) on which I inscribed by hand everything you see there.

This was one of several dozen such sheets I used in teaching that class, every two years, all through the lost years of my lost life as a devoted home school teacher of poetry.

The students were not geniuses so I thought the cartoon method might help direct attention to the subject matter, that is, the poetry of the past. Students, I found, generally regard the poetry of the past as pretty boring stuff.

There are about seven of those "Deep Keats Scrolls" posted at the same time that one was. If you check the side links for that month, on the same page, you'll see them.

The one titled Negative Capability has a brief explanation of the teaching situation.

It was originally possible to click on the images and see the details in the Scrolls up close. Then it seems there came a sea-change, one of those "new, improved" Google developments. Now when I click on the images, they don't get big any more. Someone told me a while back they can still be enlarged by "left-clicking". However I had (and have) no idea what "left-clicking" is.

Since my latest brilliant fall in the street a week ago I'm having a hard enough time convincing my helpful little mouse to click at all!

(I did such sheets for Thomas Wyatt, Ben Jonson, Ezra Pound... in fact for many of those Dead Poets whom, once upon a time, some students, at least, did regard as interesting curiosities provided the project was sufficiently simplified -- "cartoonized".)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Tom, many thanks for the explanation - I thought you, or someone you knew, might have done them. I can see why you would attempt this approach. Another angle into another world, perhaps one more appealing to the "contemporary" sensibility, at least back then. I look forward to going back and looking through the other cards.

I think of the many angles to look at the morning-glory ...

You mentioned your fall once before recently and I assumed it was your past fall. I am so sorry to hear of this more recent incident. I do hope you will heal up well and that pain is minimized.

TC said...

Thanks, Don. Yes, another street fall, blind man's buff again, trip on unlit downtown curb in dark, a week ago, embarrassing -- no fractures this time, but still trying to heal up from the scrapes and bruises.

This time a kindly young person at least stopped to offer solace. "Are you okay?" "Well..."

At least Lord Byron was not on hand to witness this latest humiliation.