Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Words of wisdom in Shakespearean style

A new son has just risen, one who earlier refused to be coerced into taking up a position of power, preferring to start as a mere worker. He made sure that he was visible, as he went around the villages, and sat down with the aam aadmi, having meals with them and making himself quite at home. However, D day is here! The young man has been taken into the bosom of his party, and is all set to take up the reins. As expected, the party members are thrilled, and have already begun suggesting that he is meant for higher, much higher things. Whoever said a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, was obviously not talking about our political scenario. A canny old man named Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet is best known for having given some shrewd and practical advice to his son Laertes. Surprisingly, if one shaves the Bard’s language of its extra fittings and trims off the lard, the advice would be just perfect for the heir apparent, advice which his mother could offer to him, in the manner below: Do not speak all that you think, ‘give thy thoughts no tongue’, or act on rash desires, that are out of harmony with the occasion. Words calculated to make one look before one leaps, so as to say! Or again, in Shakespearean words, ‘discretion before valour’. ‘Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar’. Be friendly, but remember that familiarity breeds contempt, and often, nepotism, as well. Be friends with a few, and keep them close to your soul ‘with hoops of steel’, but do not soil your palm by being over-effusive with every chance newcomer. Be respectful, but maintain your distance from sycophants and hangers-on who want to perch on your shoulder, and train their guns from there. Do not get provoked into fights, but if they are forced upon you, stand tall and give a goodly account of yourself — a principle that sits well in politics, where sitting on the fence is a well-known quality. Lend your ear to every man’s censure or opinion, but ‘reserve your judgment’. Too many gaffes by leaders and politicians have turned them into a laughing stock in today’s scenario. Cut your coat according to your purse, and dress elegantly, not ostentatiously, ‘for the apparel oft proclaims the man’. Cut down on affectation, so that others may not wonder just what you have been up to, to have obtained such wealth. ‘Neither a borrower or a lender be’, for you might end up losing the loan and the friend you held a hand out to. Think of all the diatribes and the poisonous words being used by allies who are dissatisfied with what they have been given, all regular Oliver Twists! The most vital piece of advice of all ... ‘to thine ownself be true!’ Set high moral standards for yourself and for those around you, stick to your principles, and remain above reproach, like Caesar’s wife. Behave responsibly and practically, make integrity your watchword! Isn’t it strange how a master wordsmith from the Elizabethan era could make such perfect sense even today? By Deepti Menon 26th January 2013 07:36 AM

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