Published 400 years ago, William Shakespeare's sonnets endure as testaments to love. There's also a bit of a mystery about them. On Morning Edition today, NPR's Lynn Neary reports on the evidence that Shakespeare may have written them as odes to another man — the Earl of Pembroke.
The sonnets' anniversary has the Morning Edition staff wondering: What lines, songs or movie scenes of today might still be remembered in the year 2409? You can offer your suggestions here. This baby boomer blogger's first thought: George Harrison's Something.
By the way, asking about what will be remembered in 400 years is an idea inspired by Morning Edition senior producer Neva Grant's daughter. Neva tells us how that happened:
Instead of free-associating or doodling. I find that randomly interrogating children can bring about inspiration. And that's what I needed as I pondered how Morning Edition should cover the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's sonnets.
Fortunately, my own kids have gotten used to this, so when I came home one day and ambushed my 13-year-old daughter with "do you know anything about Shakespeare's sonnets?" she gave me a weary look and answered, "Do you mean like "shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate?" Then she walked away.
That's all she knew, but it was enough to stop me in my tracks. She's a typical public school kid who hates homework and likes to go to the mall. Where did she learn one of the oldest and most elegant pick-up lines ever written?
She doesn't remember. Probably school. But even if she learned it from a Simpsons episode or a lipstick ad, the fact is, she LEARNED it. A snippet from a 400-year-old poem is rattling around in her 13-year-old head. Even Shakespeare might be honored.
But then I began to wonder: Are there any modern-day words of love that will have such staying power? Four hundred years from now, will 13-year-old girls in English class — if there even is such a thing — be required to memorize lyrics from Lay Lady Lay? Will they learn
about Casablanca or George Gershwin or TS Eliot or Queen Latifah?
Or will all the love songs we cherish get buried under a steady avalanche of impossible-to-conceive-of replacements?