A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 185

Crystal gazer Shakespeare outpeers Nostradamus

FARMINGTON - Nostradamus, the French astrologer, did not corner the 16th century futures market to the extent some may think. Shakespeare also dabbled in predictions, and with Sonnet No. 66 described a bleak era that feels chillingly familiar.

In case you don't have the works of the Immortal Bard immediately to hand, here is a decryption of his 14 enigmatic lines:

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,

...the Stratford soothsayer starts by suggesting that in this future age the few people who can still feel and think for themselves will be so ticked they could scream. He then goes on to detail the amoralization of a society that could only be a modern day United States...

As, to behold Desert a beggar born,

...this line is take to mean that meritorious actions will now be judged worthless. "What can I do for my country?" will be replaced nationally by "What's in it for me?"

And needy Nothing trimm'd in jollity,

...hosts of homeless and hungry people are predicted to be shown annually on T.V. at Christmas and Thanksgiving tucking into festive fare, happily oblivious to the other 363 days. Pop stars will turn the problem of Third World famine into a show biz event.

And purest Faith unhappily forsworn, this point Shakespeare obliquely refers to the astonishing number of office holders who will slink away from the Reagan administration under various clouds, and to Memory Man, himself, lucking into two million pieces of Japanese silver.

And gilded Honour shamefully misplaced,

...uniformed men will deceive the U.S. Congress and in behaving like a secret military junta, shake the Constitution they have pledged to uphold.

And maiden Virtue rudely strumpeted,

...government, through its Supreme Court appointees, will attempt to control the bodies as well as the minds of its citizens. Law-abiding women seeking entrance to abortion clinics will be reviled as murderers.

And right Perfection wrongfully disgraced,

...those who advocate equal opportunity for minorities and low income people in the fields of housing, employment, health and education will be despised as a bunch of no-good commie bums trying to undermine the forces of the marketplace.

And Strength by limping Sway disabled,

...oratory, argument, reason and political debate, hitherto the cornerstone of United States democracy, will be paralyzed by the Machiavellian 10-second sound bite.

And Art made tongue-tied by Authority,

Shakespeare divines the rise of Sen. Jesse Helms, police raids on American art galleries, books censoriously removed from library shelves.

And Folly, doctor-like, controlling Skill,

...this line predicts the electronic media will administer a sleeping draft of game shows, sports, soap operas and shallow dramas inducing a comatose national mind.

And simple Truth miscall'd Simplicity, Shakespeare correctly foresees the Reagan/Bush administrations, despite mounting scientific proof of global warming, ozone depletion, acid rain, oceanic pollution and other impending ecological catastrophes, will oppose timely change, calling such evidence inconclusive data supplied by well-meaning but naive worrywarts.

And captive Good attending captain Ill, a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created free and equal, Shakespeare foretells the arrival of a decade when the gap between rich and poor will widen grotesquely, billions of dollars will gush mysteriously out of savings & loans institutions to the detriment of taxpayers, prisons will become crammed with Blacks, Hispanics and poor whites, public educational standards will flounder and sink, and a U.S. Senate committee will mouth surprise at violence across the country. Countless millions of U.S. voters, apathetic victims of right-wing Republicanism, limping Sway and Folly, will silently shrug and drop off the electoral rolls.

Tired with all of these, from these would I be gone,

Save that, to die, I leave my love alone. a nutshell, Shakespeare is telling modern day, progressive Americans that if they abandon the fight, those inspiring tenets on which the country was founded, those liberal ideals which once won the admiration of the world, will be suffocated by the forces of the rich and powerful, mischievously bearing flags - by fiends whose policies stifle compassion and decency.

June 24, 1991

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