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Dear Mr. Shakespeare,
King Lear's Fool Cropped.jpg

Last night, I finished reading every last iambic meter of your plays, sonnets and longer poems. The Phoenix and Turtle was the perfect song to end on. I vow to memorize it. I have wandered the cathedral of your creation, climbed, the highest tower and looked out on the horizon. I’ve wandered the nave, the chapels and have been dazzled by the dappled light thrown by the stained glass, met the gargoyles and descended to dark, airless cellars filled with cranky ghosts.

As I lived with your work over the years, I've come to realize that my taste has grown cynical. I admire Troilus and Cressida for the naked skepticism about love and was mesmerized by the brutal energy of Coriolanus. (T.S. Eliot ranked this play above Hamlet, and in a certain sense I have to agree.) Did you write Coriolanus to please only yourself, throwing no bone of bawdy romance to hold the groundlings's attention but worked a play of sheer muscle and steely music?

From a production in Santa Cruz of your Hamlet, I learned a vital lesson. The title character’s voice was too thin to carry the part; as he ran out of energy in this, your longest play, ahhh . . . the Player King’s voice rang forth, lucid and modulated in the poetry your work was meant to be. In life I’d rather be a bit player with a clear true voice than the lead, huffing and puffing my way to an extenuated, exhausted conclusion.

King Lear remains my favorite among your tragedies and feel a kinship as I write and draw the graphic novel about the tortured demise of my great grandfather under Communism.

In my next life I will come back to play the fools, both tragic and comic. One of my favorite comic fools is Launce in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, hilarious even next his dog, Crab—and you know animals are apt to steal the show.

So now that my mind has grazed every last word of your oeuvre, it’s time to dig deeper, lingering over the details in the genius of architecture.

Yours truly,

Belle Yang

P.S.—I don’t know why the experts are forever trying to excavate your personal history. It’s unnecessary for it’s just plain and obvious to me who you are from living with your words.

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