Sy Calaelen

Shakespeare is my Therapist | Richard II


Ben Whishaw as King Richard II from BBC 2 ‘The Hollow Crown’ (2012)

I have been studying and reading up on Shakespeare for the past few weeks for college. Luckily, I found Shakespeare as a young child and fell for his works almost immediately. Over the years, his sonnets and the beautiful and yet tragic stories he weaved through his epic plays imbued in my heart opening the way I hoped to head; wishing either to study Shakespeare and take up acting seriously or write nearly as half as good at thew writers who hoped to write nearly as half as good as him. If you look into Shakespeare, the well written soliloquies revealed the innermost thoughts of his characters, are the most famous speeches in the world, not just within the realm of English Literature or Drama. With some of his most famous ‘To be or not to be’ from Hamlet, or the dagger speech from Macbeth,  ‘Is this a dagger which I see before me‘. I won’t go into a huge amount of detail about how Shakespeare has been a huge influence on me, I’ll save that for a later post, but I will say this: Shakespeare has been the number one writer I can turn to when needing emotional advice, or help with emotional turmoil. Okay, I won’t stab myself or drink poison, but you get my drift. His words show both madness, love and passion, and I agree with Simon Schama’s view of him; he knew humans too well. [this is a crap introduction, forgive me, time was running out!]

I became absorbed in the various shows and documentaries on Shakespeare, but thanks to the BBC I just had to share with you, one of the most blessed monologues I had learnt as a child, from Richard II, Act III, Scene 2:


No matter where; of comfort no man speak:
Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth,
Let’s choose executors and talk of wills:
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke’s,
And nothing can we call our own but death
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings;
How some have been deposed; some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poison’d by their wives: some sleeping kill’d;
All murder’d: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear’d and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
As if this flesh which walls about our life,
Were brass impregnable, and humour’d thus
Comes at the last and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell king!
Cover your heads and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form and ceremonious duty,
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me, I am a king?

I have been watching The Hollow Crown on BBC 2 and found I still remembered the lines from this scene, with my mouth though tight, muttering each line as Ben Whishaw delivered them so full of gust. Now let me just say, I gave up on acting because I found I had much keener hand for writing and directing, so that is what I am sticking to. But, if I am suddenly full of inspiration to perform on stage again, I shall!

–Not a regular post, but I just had to share =]

Sy x


Author: Sy Calaelen

Sy Calaelen is a British writer, blogger and Youtube vlogger, though she isn't filming at the moment. English literature graduate and future social work graduate. Both sites will focus on literary reviews, book lists, comic books and nerd chat, writing and novel tips, and discussions in magick, paganism and the occult. A mixture of everything from her. Reach out on social media from Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, GoodReads, and Pinterest.

2 thoughts on “Shakespeare is my Therapist | Richard II

  1. I loved Richard II, I think it’s such an under-appreciated play! I’ve never really been a Shakespeare fan but decided to watch Hollow Crown because I knew Tom Hiddleston would be in it ;D …But the one line that made me fall in love with Shakespeare and his marvellous way with words, was ‘Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes, write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.’ …That line just seemed like such an awe inspiring way to express something, and suddenly I felt like I ‘got’ what it was that made people appreciate Shakespeare so much 🙂

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