Will I Am
History - World Released - Aug 06, 2018
Will I Am
That’s “Will” as in William Shakespeare,
and “I Am” as in iambic pentameter,
the meter in which he wrote his plays.
It’s writing with a beat, a heartbeat,
with ten beats to the line,
da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum, da-dum
with the accent on the second syllable,
da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM
Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth, beware Macduff
A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!
Sweet mercy is nobility’s true badge.
Mine honor is my life; both grow in one;
Take honor from me, and my life is done.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head:
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
Iambic pentameter works especially well in German and in the language that grew out of it–English. In fact, we speak in iambic, emphasizing one syllable over another, as in “we SPEAK in IAMbic,” or “my NAME is RICHard NISley” or “are YOU goING to THE store” or (quoting Shakespeare) “it’s GREEK to ME.” To do otherwise is to speak in a monotone, which is boring. Which brings us back to Shakespeare. Shakespeare livened up the English language and one of the ways he did it was with writing in iambic pentameter. For actors, it makes memorization much easier. As one actor put it, learning Shakespeare is like hearing a song on the radio. With repetition the words become memorable, thanks to the steady iambic beat, ten syllables to the line, line after line after line.
From Macbeth, I leave you this:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble;
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble;
By pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes;