Sunday, October 17, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Comes

1914 Poster

My Postcard from Oxford
(click on image to enlarge)

Some people just have perfect timing. This is the postcard I received on Friday, my first day of a four day, long weekend/ fall break. I have been immersed in school, not on Blogger (with the exception of one magical evening at THE Ball) and certainly not writing to the people who should be hearing from me. Quite naturally, of course, this card was from my dear friend Anne of Cumnor Hill, Oxford! I had just the day before swore I would call or write to her. My how the time flies while re-reading elegies, Beowulf, ballads, and Chaucer! Then--there is the teaching and grading papers and posting grades! Whew! Next it will be time for my favorite: Good old gory Macbeth and his even more blood thirsty Lady! (My son was showing me some Shakespeare Flair on Facebook, and one badge featured a new product line: Lady Macbeth Hand Soap! Gotta have it!) The card above is 5x7 and quite detailed! I have scanned it in and will be using it as a desk top at school! ~~~~Believe it or not, I used to teach a version of the play to my seventh graders when I worked at a junior high school! I had developed what you might call an enrichment unit to introduce Shakespeare at an early age. I used a story form of the plays artfully composed by Leon Garfield. I actually had his book Shakespeare Stories featuring about eight or so of the Bard's best told in unique narrative form and embroidered with just the right quotes from the plays, but I had not used MACBETH. These stories were just perfect for the young adolescent audience I taught. I had just returned to my classroom from a spring break trip to Scotland with three of my favorite seventh grade girls, (no wonder I refer to it as my Miss Jeane Brodie tour), to find our favorite read of the time--a set of the latest classroom literary magazines--waiting on my desk.

Now dear readers, get this: The four of us had--just days before --toured Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. We were doing our very best to be attentive and listen to the thick Scottish accent of our tour guide in the ballroom lined with portraits when our eyes fixed on a most sinister portrait. A close examination of the descriptive plaque under the painting revealed to us MACBETH! Suddenly he was very real. His gaze was piercing. Until that moment, I was not even certain he had been an actual person, nor had I ever taught the play. (My first 22 years of teaching were all at the junior high level with mostly seventh graders.) I must have thought he was one of Shakespeare's inventions. I consulted my Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare in which he gives detailed historical background on each of the plays. I learned that King Macbeth (reign 1040-1057) was indeed a very real feudal king, and that Shakepeare had written the play after Queen Elizabeth's death to appeal to his new patron, King James of Scotland who was very interested in witchcraft! So imagine my great surprise when the feature article of our Scope Magazine was Leon Garfield's MACBETH!! (Play the spooky music!)


So that is how it began for me, and even with my high school seniors, after we read and discuss and study the play, I always like to share and/or revisit
Ray Bradbury's story Something Wicked This Way Comes. The novel is admittedly deeper and darker than the film which was released in 1983, but the the Disney studios made a masterful interpretation of Bradbury's tale of an aging father (Jason Robards) and his young son coming to terms with their fears, all stirred up in a bubbling cualdron of emotions by Mr. Dark. (Jonathan Pryce). The story is told from the point of view of the son, and focuses on the autumn of his twelfth year when a most unusual carnival comes to town. And, I must say, this is not your typical Disney tale, but it is a classic at our house. (I believe Bradbury wrote the screenplay.) If you have never seen it, you are in for a real Halloween treat!

"By the pricking of my thumbs...
Something wicked this way comes..."
from Macbeth, Act IV, Scene 1


Cait O'Connor said...

I love Ray Bradbury's writing,he is a great poet too.
I also love your header pic, it is beautiful.

Gaston Studio said...

Fantastic book and movie, was it Jason Roberds who played the father? Could be my memory is betraying me on this one.

Your new header is incredible... makes me think those two beautiful children are sharing a secret and about to seal it with a lick.

FireLight said...

Cait, you are so right about Bradbury. Many of his short stories were often featured in the books I used at school. I especially liked "The Flying Machine" set in ancient China. An emperor has to balance the consequences of progress against security. So glad you stopped by!

Gaston Studio, yes, it was indeed Jason Robards. I had a "senior moment" while composing this, and made a mental note to come back and add that very fact. So much for "mental" notes...mine get lost somewhere in the Senior Moment File!!! The two children are my younger son, Cuyler and childhood playmate and neighbor, Alice. A neighbor who lived between us took the photo circa 1985. Cuyler is a cancer survivor and will celebrate his 29th birthday on the 31st of this month! God is good, and He is on time.

Derrick said...

Did that thick-accented Scot's guide tell you, though, that those Holyrood portraits are figments of someone's imagination and have an uncanny resemblance one to the other?! There are those who maintain that the real Macbeth wasn't anything like the nasty piece of work in Shakespeare's play. Have you read Nigel Tranter's novels?
And, yes, the header and sidebar pics are super!

FireLight said...

Derrick, no, he did not even mention the portrait we saw. However, I could tell it was not old enough to be from the 11th century! I do realize that old Will did like to twist and rewrite history for the sake of a well told tale. Assimov commented that Duncan was actually a younger king with younger sons than Shakespeare would have us believe, and that whoever killed him was never really clear.(Or that is how I remember it.)Also, many transplanted Scots descendants at the Macbeth tents at highland games here in the South are quick to defend their royal ancestor!

willow said...

Well, I was synchronicitously (I'm pronouncing this a word) trying on a Macbeth-ish hat yesterday in the antique center.

Love-love-love the fabulous pics of your pumpkins in the maple leaves!

FireLight said...

Dear Willow, it is officially a new entry in the the grand collection fo WILLOWISMS and a grand word it is! I am sure you can tell that I was much influenced and yet again inspired by your recent woolly socks movie reviews and and praises of the fall weather. I have had four glorious days at home, had a a chance to putter in the garden, plant some violas, see the temp go as low as 47F, make reasonable post and read up on favorite blogs, and hear from you & other much adored blogger souls!
I feel AUTUMNAL and very much refreshed!

Tom Atkins said...

Your post brought back so many reading memories! Thank you!

About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat