Shakespeare - Childhood and the Bible.
August 12-13, 2007
Santa Cruz, California
Received by FAB
I am here, William Shakespeare.
I was indeed born on April 23, 1564, as is commonly suspected. Mr. Ackroyd is correct when he surmises that my parents moved me, when I was an infant, to safety, during an episode of the plague, to Wilmcote, where my mother had a family home.
I did indeed, as a child, attend many, many plays, including the medieval mystery plays. The drama of Jesus’ betrayal and murder affected me deeply. I carried through, in my plays, this powerful theme of betrayal. It was this childhood experience that convinced me, when I became a young man, that the theater would be my life.
You are wondering, if I was aware of the mystery plays since childhood, why I did not explore Christianity. Well, I got taken up with theater and the worldly demands of my profession. I often puzzled about the human soul, wondering if it existed at all. No, I did not have a clear-cut perception of the soul as you do.
Though I was deeply affected as a child by the life of Jesus, when adulthood came, I put this aside in order to pursue my earthly career. This came back to haunt me over here.
Let me now discuss my early relationship with the Bible. The King James version was first published a few years before my death, so it was earlier versions of the Bible that I was exposed to in my early years.
My love of language and words was already in place in my childhood, so I thoroughly absorbed and enjoyed reading the Bible. I loved the various stories, and I loved the way its ideas were expressed in such beautiful ways.
I drew heavily on the Bible in my adult writings. I loved the Psalms and the Book of Proverbs. I also loved the four Gospels and the Book of Job.
But my favorite book, from a literary point of view, was not the Psalms, but Lamentations. Yes, you channeled that correctly. You are puzzled. Why not the Psalms, because of their beautiful poetry?
Well, I did indeed appreciate as a boy their beautiful poetry, but Lamentations is more poignant and more dramatic. It corresponded more closely to a budding dramatist’s desires. I also loved the Book of Job, but Lamentations just tugged at my heart.