Saturday, September 15, 2012

Thoughts on "the Bard"

bard (bärd) n. 1. One of an ancient Celtic order of minstrel poets who composed and recited verses celebrating the legendary exploits of chieftains and heroes. 2. A poet, especially a lyric poet. --bard'ic adj.

My dictionary program sometimes assumes that the reader is post-modern!  I am almost 60, so of course I know this word, but here it is listed as the "expert" word of the day.

Of course, it is not a word that we use daily since it is "an ancient Celtic order," so I guess it needs a few remarks.  A bard is a poet, most notable of whom is "the bard" of English literature William Shakespeare.  Or perhaps I speak only from my days of reading Shakespeare in college and high school before that.  I know, that was a long time ago, but the word "bard" always brings that great writer to mind.

Though he is best known for his plays rather than his poetry, even the plays were written in iambic pentameter for the most part. A prolific writer, Shakespeare wrote on assignment, being supported by the "arts community of his day."  Some claim that others wrote for him, and others that he even had a part in translating the King James Version of the Bible.

If you don't believe that one, check it out.  Count the words in Psalm 46, stopping on the 46th word.  That word should be "shake" (verse 3).  Now count from the last word (not the "selah") and you will find the word "spear" (verse 9).  Voila! "Proof" that Shakespeare translated Psalm 46 (reportedly "his" number).

One other thing, the spell checker just solved a 400 year old mystery: how to spell "Shakespeare."  Even the Bard wasn't consistent!

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