…made glorious summer by this sun of York.”
– William Shakespeare, Richard III
This post started off life as a Sunday Quote, but once the words began to flow, I realized what an encouraging submission to the IWSG it would make: to share where some of my sources for inspiration come.
Inspiration abounds in the written word, but there are two influences to which I always turn whenever feeling unsatisfied or ill-at-ease—that’s the bard himself, Sir William Shakespeare, and that lesser-known chap, King James.
You know, of The Bible fame.
Both men either wrote (or had the work) transcribed during the same era—thus the understandable confusion as to whether a quote is scripture or just another insightful witticism of Ol’ Willy’s—and both offer some of the most beautiful poetic verse and iambic pentameter this world has ever known.
Yes, mine eyes hath seen the glory of the product of thy words, however, thou’s art art rather vexing at times.
First, after you’ve finished spitting on everybody with all the lisping, you have to “translate” what thou just uttered. Break out ye Olde English to Moderne English dictionary, then start examining the hidden symbolism and analogies.
For instance, I chose the quote above because, as if writing weren’t demanding enough, throw a few wrenches into the gears and things quickly become quite hectic. Extend this over a period of…let’s say…the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and you’ll be in a Perpetual Winter of Discontent. Or at least it will feel like it.
That’s what I’ve been working through: a great season of dis-ease, at times made worse by additional wrenches in the cogs. To cope with the difficulties that crop up like this, I usually either start singing…or quoting…and when the recent feelings of discontent crept up, so did this quote.
To understand Shakespeare—truly understand—one must also bone-up on the history of the subject, which in this case is King Richard III and his brother, Edward IV.
The opening line of the play is a reference to Edward’s battle with the Lancastrians at Mortimer’s Cross during the War of the Roses. As his Yorkist forces reached Mortimer’s Cross, three suns appeared in the sky—an illusion known as a parhelion—which were seen as an affirming sign from God that Edward would be victorious; in their eyes, this parhelion was a direct manifestation of the Holy Trinity.
Edward indeed won the battle, and afterward, adopted the “Sun in Splendour” as his livery badge, marking the beginning of the end of the Middle Ages. One must also note that “sun of York” is a play on words: Edward IV is the son of Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York.
So, simply put: the Winter of Discontent—the Middle Ages—was over, made into glorious summer by Edward IV.
What in the name of heaven does this have to do with the IWSG?
Well…quotes help me make sense of life. When I choose an applicable quote from Shakespeare or The Bible and study its meaning, by the time all is said and done, the feelings of discontent or insecurity or whatever have vanished; I now have a sense of accomplishment and direction.
And because I fully understand this passage, I’ve gained a new hope that my own time of unhappiness will soon be over.
To what sources do you turn for comfort and strength, and what have been some of your favorite quotes of inspiration?
This post was written as a part of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. We post the first Wednesday of every month and share our solutions to common difficulties, encourage other writers to meet their insecurities head-on, and seek supportive shoulders to tear-stain when we’ve received just one too many rejections.
If you’d like to join the group (and we’d love to have you), follow the link to Alex’s site, grab a badge, and put your name on the list. I’ll see you next month!