Tuesday, January 4, 2022

I am the Very Model of a Professor Shakespearean

"I am the Very Model of a Professor Shakespearean." Parody of "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" by W. S. Gilbert, music by A. S. Sullivan. Perf. kj. For a thoroughly and delightfully annotated version of "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General," see
"I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General," The Pirates of Penzance, by William Schwenck Gilbert, Asimov's Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan, New York (Doubleday 1988), 227-34.
You, my readers, often say, "Oh, I wish I could take your Shakespeare and Film course!" After assuring you that I wish, too, that you could be in my course, I wonder if you have any idea what you would be letting yourself in for if you actually did sign up for the course.
The only things I can think to do are (1) Share the twenty-five page syllabus with you, (2) Send you back to the first Bardfilm post and ask you to read forward from there, or (3) Give you a general idea of what the first day of class would be like.
You can choose your own path, of course; however, while you're here, why not see what the first day of one of my Shakespeare courses might be like (the lyrics are printed in the video below, but they're also in the text below that): 

I am the Very Model of a Professor Shakespearean.

I am the very model of a Professor Shakespearean.
I know that Hamlet’s Danish and that Twelfth Night is Illyrian.
I know the plays are comedy or tragedy or history
And that the English Drama has evolved from plays of Mystery.
I can tell trochaic trimeter from iambic pentameter
And know that Fortinbras is a Norwegian or a Laplander . . .
I see that Romeo for Juliet had what is true desire . . .

[Worried about the rhyme . . .]

And I can quote the speech that has the line “O, for a muse of fire.”

[Line repeats with chorus.]

When reading King Lear, I suggest that Gloucester really ought to see;
And I’ll enliven dinner dates with a “to be or not to be.”
And if you mention pirates, I say “Hamlet’s trip buccaneerian”—
I am the very model of a Professor Shakespearean.

I’m pretty sure I know to whom Shakespeare left all his underwear;
I also know which play has someone exit pursued by a bear.
Both Much Ado and Henry Five—I’ve seen the films Branagh-ger-y—
And I can yell, “Is this a dagger that I see in front of me?”
I know that all the world’s a stage and that each one must play a part.
I know Bernardo’s cold and that Fransisco’s really sick at heart.
You know I can decipher all the speeches of Polonius . . .

[Worried about the rhyme . . .]

And nearly all he says is merely dictum ab bolonius.

[Line repeats with chorus.] 

I can say which character would trade a kingdom for a measly horse,
And if you call for sonnets, I can quote you every one, of course.
And I remember Hamlet’s line “a satyr to Hyperion”:
I am the very model of a Professor Shakespearean.

In fact, when I can tell all seven bloody Henry plays apart
And even sit though that play with the fat guy in the laundry cart—
When I can play the Scottish play with bagpipes or accordian
And have the sharpest answers for the most confirmed Oxfordian—
When I can tell if it’s a fretful porpentine or platypus,
And pronounce honorificabilitudinitatibus
In short, when I know every bit of bawdy joke and knavery,

[Certain about the rhyme . . .]

You’ll say a better Professor Shakespearean could naaver be.

[Line repeats with chorus.]

For my knowledge of Will Shakespeare, though I’ve seen an awful lot of films,
Is limited because, quite frankly, I can become overwilmed.
But I know Hamlet’s Danish and that Twelfth Night is Illyrian:
I am the very model of a Professor Shakespearean.

And there you have it. Now you know what it's like to be in one of my Shakespeare classes!

And I'd just like to add, as a brief codicil, these points:

Yes, I know there's another genre called "Romance"—and (conceivably) even another called "Problem Play"—but I only had so many syllables to work with.

Yes, but you try coming up with a rhyme for "film."  At least mine has a bit of a pun on Shakespeare's name.

Yes, the "nearly" / "merely" internal rhyme is quite nice!  Thank you.

And if you didn't get enough here, why don't you write your own verse and post it in the comments?  Or head over to Good Tickle Brain and sing her "Modern Major Shakespeare Fan" number? Its rhythm, in particular, is commendable.

If you enjoyed this—or, frankly, whether you enjoyed this or not—you can also try "Shakespearean Rhapsody," "Danish Paradise," "Dunsinane Prison Blues," or "Let's Do It (Let's Fall in Love . . . with Shakespeare)." Or steer toward this musical version of King Lear's madness. Alternately, investigate the big number from the musical Pyramus. If you're desperate for something to do with Richard III, you could try the (admittedly not very well performed) "I'll Make a King out of Me."  Or you could listen to this musical PSA that warns people to stay clear of the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
[Note: Should the embedded video above go sour, here's a blog-native version.]

1 comment:

kj said...

Thanks to Shakespeare Geek (https://www.shakespearegeek.com/blog) for pointing out that, in the video, I used some rare alternate spellings. Just as I provided the Scottish spelling of "never be" (i.e., "naaver be"), I used a rare English Renaissance spelling of "knavery" (viz., "kavery").

kj (Bardfilm)

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest