Thursday, July 28, 2011

Powerful Words

I think its funny how one word can be pretty harmless on its own (not counting Voldemort, of course), but a group of words strung together to make a phrase, a sentence, a book, a play…those can be very powerful.

In front of the Globe stage!
Which seemed to be one of the messages in the play our group went to see last night—Anne Boleyn by Howard Brenton, performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. I was so excited to see a play about one of my heroines, and in a venue associated with one of my heroes. And let me tell you, I was not disappointed! The play begins with James I inheriting the English throne after Elizabeth’s death; rifling through random objects in his new home, he finds a small book that belonged to Anne Boleyn: a Protestant book, considered highly dangerous to read in her time. The play jumps back and forth between generations, to show Anne’s romance with Henry and her eventual conviction to become the new Protestant queen of England, as well as James’ struggles to mend the rift between the religious factions in his new country. The play ends with Anne’s inevitable demise at the hands of Thomas Cromwell, and James commissioning a new English translation of the Bible, now known as the King James Bible, which is coincidentally celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. In the end, James had to try and fix all of the trouble cause by Anne in the first place, and yet he (as well as we, the audience) have a new fondness and respect for the "Tudor harlot."

Easily the nicest Library I've been to. Ever.
Surprisingly enough, I left the play with a new admiration for King James. I didn’t know that much about him before seeing Anne Boleyn, other than that he was the son of Mary, Queen of Scotts. Brenton wrote him as a loud, flamboyant Scotsman with a fondness for other men, and a possible problem of Turrets syndrome. Definitely an unforgettable, scene-stealing character, though perhaps not entirely historically accurate…..but honestly, who cares?

The next day, we took a tour of the rare books collection at the British Library, which believe it or not had an original copy of the King James Bible. They also had Charlotte Bronte’s rough draft of Jane Eyre, one of Jane Austen’s diaries, and my personal favorite, the original Beatles lyrics to “Michelle” written on an envelope. Again, an interesting continuation of the “words with power” theme.

Keats' House. Good sized house, until you remember
 that two families lived here, not just one
And to top it all off, I trekked out to John Keats’ house after the Library. It has been on my London to-do list for awhile, but I finally had some free time today to check it off my list. This was the house where he wrote some of his most famous love poetry, and the place where he fell in love with Fanny Brawne, the love of his (short) life. It was a small house, but it was nice to go through a museum quietly, and on my own, as opposed to the usual routine of following a guide with a group of twenty others. All in all, it was a nice change of pace. It also made me want to see the movie Bright Star for at least the fourth time J

Words are powerful, whether because of their beauty, their pain, their truth, even their lies. Sometimes we forget, and other times we’re reminded of it all at once.


  1. I'm wondering what kind of condition the globe theater was in when you went. Is it still kept up quite nicely with all sorts of new modern technology placed into the shell of the old?

    The idea that they keep the envelope on which the words to Michelle were inscribed seems a bit much to me for some reason. Perhaps I'm not a big enough fan of The Beetles to see how cool that is?

    Lastly, at first I was really impressed with how big of a house Keats had, considering how poor he was most of the time and how much he had to spend on his medical care, but then I read the caption. Makes much more sense now. Haha

  2. I can tell you're not a huge fan of the Beatles, all cuz you misspelled their name! Lol, anyways I thought the envelope was pretty cool.

    And the Globe looks pretty authentic. They definitely use modern equipment, but they hide it pretty well.

    Last tidbit, I promise-- Keats' friend Brown (I forget his first name) was letting him have a romm on his side of the house for free, because he knew Keats wasn't able to afford it otherwise. The family that lived on the other side of the house were the Brawnes (Keats fell in love with their daughter, Fanny). So really there were more like six people living in the same house!