Last night, after rehearsals, it was far too hot to go home – and, the rehearsals having gone passably well, we weren’t in the mood to disperse yet anyway. So we sat, more or less in the dark, in the garden of our makeshift rehearsal room. We sat in a circle, and began to tell each other the combination of Sonnets 55 and 81 that ends the play.
We all said it in turn, the game being to do it as differently as we could from the person before us. Again and again we said it…
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
The living record of your memory.
’Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read;
And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,
When all the breathers of this world are dead;
You still shall live—such virtue hath my pen—
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
And I don’t know – but, in a time when wasteful war does overturn statues, and broils truly root out the works of masonry, the fact of sitting together in the dark and reciting these particular lines had its own peculiar beauty. Perhaps I’m just being maudlin, but it felt like keeping alive a little flame, and holding it out for those eyes not yet created, and those tongues to be…
It felt beautiful – and it felt important.