Monday, April 23, 2012

“After Reading Shakspere”

Headpiece for “After Reading Shakspere” by Howard Pyle (1900)

I admit I'm more of an Oxfordian than a Stratfordian, and even Howard Pyle said of Shakespeare - or Shakespere, or Shakspeare, or Shakspere - that “the man himself looms a very big, dim figure.” But Pyle had a lifelong love of the playwright-poet, whoever he was: he quoted him, acted in his plays, and hoped - in vain, due to his untimely death - to illuminate an edition of the Sonnets. Even so, no specific Shakespeare illustrations of Pyle’s were ever published.

The only “Shakespearean” Pyle illustration that I can find is the one shown here, from Edwin Markham’s The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems, which he made in 1900.

After Reading Shakspere
by Edwin Markham

Blithe Fancy lightly builds with airy hands
Or on the edges of the darkness peers,
Breathless and frightened at the Voice she hears:
Imagination (lo! the sky expands)
Travels the blue arch and Cimmerian sands,—
Homeless on earth, the pilgrim of the spheres,
The rush of light before the hurrying years,
The Voice that cries in unfamiliar lands.

Men weigh the moons that flood with eerie light
The dusky vales of Saturn—wood and stream;
But who shall follow on the awful sweep
Of Neptune through the dim and dreadful deep?
Onward he wanders in the unknown night,
And we are shadows moving in a dream.

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