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A jog on Shakespeare’s paths

April 24, 2014

I thought you might like to read Kate’s piece on Shakespeare and paths.


I thought I’d mark Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (assuming he was born on 23 April 1564) with some of his references to paths and commons.  As a countryman and a walker, he knew the highways and byways.

I am indebted to the Concordance to Shakespeare by John Bartlett, Macmillan 1894 (2,000 pages of small print—how on earth did he do it without a computer?)

The concordance The concordance

Many of the references are metaphorical of course.

‘Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads’ (Hamlet i-3-50)

‘that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire’  (Macbeth ii-3-22)

web primroses

‘And he is bred out of that bloody strain
That haunted us in our familiar paths’   (Henry V ii-4-52)

web waymark

But others are not:

Gloucester: ‘Know’st thou the way to Dover?’
Edgar: ‘Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path.’  (King Lear iv-1-58)

And for commons, there is reference to a petition ‘against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the commons…

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