Friday, July 25, 2014

The Megrim of King Richard the Third

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
— Act One, Scene One The Life and Death of Richard the Third
by William Shakespeare

"The winter of our discontent" is an ornament of Shakespeare's language that has perhaps slipped into a clichĂ©, since it is also a label for an incident in modern British history. (Public sector strikes, inclement weather, and annoyance with the Labour government in 1978 and early 1979, which may — in their sum — have gifted us with Margaret Thatcher.)*

In itself, it is an apt label when 'everything' — public matters, private life, or anything similar — is in a difficult frame of affairs.

N.B.: Laurence Olivier's recitation of the lines is well worth finding on YouTube.