Where Shakespeare Lived, Loved and Died

Shakespeare in Love. Written by Lian Buan for SubSelfie.com

Editor’s Note: Last June 21, 2014, Lian Buan visited Stratford-upon-Avon in England. This town is the birthplace of William Shakespeare, the celebrated bard and wordsmith. His grave is also here.

Today is the longest day of 2014, the start of summer. It is the midsummer day and I luckily experienced it here in England, where the summer solstice is elaborately celebrated, at the Stonehenge in particular.

Revelers would go there, get a good vantage point, and witness the rising of the sun above the heel stone. It is a celestial alignment that delights thousands of thousands every year, hoping that the break of the sun would mean a break in their fates.

Witnessing the sunrise of a midsummer day at the Stonehenge. (Photo courtesy: AFP)
Witnessing the sunrise of a midsummer day at the Stonehenge. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

Summer Solstice in the Stonehenge

It is believed in European folk tales that the midsummer was a lucky day for maidens seeking husbands. At night, a flicker of light will appear which will allow these maidens to see the reflection of their future lovers in the water.

It all sounds so romantic.

Even more when you take into consideration the setting of the Stonehenge in the British countryside of Wiltshire, surrounded by the River Avon. I have no idea what it looks like in the Shakespearean era, but I think it’s safe to assume that all of it inspired the timeless literature of William Shakespeare.

After all, I believe your surroundings affect your thinking. This is what inspired me to write this, as I await the setting of the sun, for that flicker of light and maybe, just maybe, the reflection of my future lover. England enchants you like that.

“My soul is in the sky.”
— A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon.
The picturesque Stratford-upon-Avon.
Sidewalks of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Sidewalks.
Bricks everywhere.
Bricks everywhere.
English breakfast!
English breakfast!
Sights in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Sights in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare’s Birthplace

Three days ago, my sister and I drove 130 miles across the country to visit Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire (near Wiltshire, and needless to say, upon the River Avon.) This is where Shakespeare was born and buried. His estate is a popular tourist attraction here.

The entry to Shakespeare’s home is a dark hall of mementos that stretches just a few meters and at the end, a break of light, a burst of colors from the lush garden of the estate and finally — the house of the greatest writer of all time.

A lady dressed in Victorian clothing tells us 60% of the house is original, some of the wall panels remain intact and that the floor just needed refurnishing. She said: “Think of it as standing where Shakespeare stood.”

I snapped and snapped away at my camera phone, but remembered to pause briefly with each step to realize where I was. You could see the busy streets of Stratford-upon-Avon from the windows, not concealing anything, not even the tiniest detail of the streak of the sun, or the glint from the corner of a passer-by’s eyes, and the joy that I felt just standing there.

Joy that was quickly replaced by another emotion: I did not deserve to be there. Other people deserved that moment, that joy. People I knew. People who knew Shakespeare more than I do. Not a girl who just schemed through abridgement of his works in Freshman Literature, then again in Senior Year when I have acquired better taste but not enough to actually read anything of his in entirety.

First door to the Shakespeare Estate.
First door to the Shakespeare Estate.
Standing where Shakespeare stood and glanced.
Standing where Shakespeare stood and glanced.
Shakespeare's bust.
Shakespeare’s bust.
The master bedroom.
The master bedroom.
Interior design.
Interior design.
Wallpapers.
Wallpapers.

Shakespeare’s Graveyard

I went out of the house, back to the streets, en route to his graveyard, carrying that thought and having an internal battle with myself. it was during that walk that I concluded that sometimes, people get things they don’t deserve. You just wind up getting picked by the Universe for things meant more for other people than you, and the better thing to do than fight it is appreciate it.

The Universe gave me England, the opportunity to live vicariously through Shakespeare even for just a moment. To do my thinking in such a wondrous place, with a rich backstory, guided by words that have proven eternal, so that my thoughts would be on the side of the good, rather than the bad.

That was my bargain, for the rest of the things I didn’t deserve. And I took it.

So I didn’t deserve Shakespeare. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t get to be the one to stand at the foot of his grave and honor his memory. I’m sure he would have wanted to be appreciated in a different way. But isn’t that the point of creating stories? To allow people generations over to live in them, so enthusiastically they would travel the world just to see where it all began.

Or at the very least, to find sense in them, see their own tragedy in them, and in retrospect, find peace in them. To allow them to create stories of their own. Stories of love maybe, of loss, and of such moments you realize that the Universe can be kind to you, sometimes in the most poetic way.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
— Hamlet

This is the grave of William Shakespeare and he was buried beside his wife Anne Hathaway.
This is the grave of William Shakespeare and he was buried beside his wife Anne Hathaway.
The tomb of Shakespeare is in a chancel inside the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.
The tomb of Shakespeare is in a chancel inside the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Weaving Words

There are many things I do not deserve. Surely, I didn’t deserve to get my heart broken, to cry, and to feel the hollowness of a love lost. But I also didn’t deserve to fall in love, when I didn’t know how to. But it doesn’t mean I don’t get to learn from it, celebrate it even, and claim it as my story.

“The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
— Julius Caesar

The sun is setting as I write. It is the midsummer night. And during this, Shakespeare writes:

“The course of true love never did run smooth.”
— A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I see my flicker of light, there is no reflection, only clarity. We all deserve love, but the course of it never runs smooth and the better thing to do than fight it is appreciate it.

The course of true love never did run smooth. But it will run forever.
The course of true love never did run smooth. But it will run forever.

[Entry 18, The SubSelfie Blog]

About the Author:

Lian Nami Buan.
Lian Nami Buan is the Associate Editor of SubSelfie.com. She leads the #SubStory and #TanawMindanao segments of the website. She also produces special reports for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. She wants to shift focus to human rights, particularly indigenous people, women and migration. Whenever she has money, she travels to collect feelings for writing material. Journalism 2010, UST. Read more of her articles here.

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