I’d die to go back in time.
To feel the hazelnut shells under my feet. To smell the crush of groundlings’ bodies. To taste the air of London. To see Gloriana herself up in the stalls. To hear the words spoken for the first time.
To wonder with Viola. To war with Henry. To die with Desdemona. To wash away the blood with Lady Macbeth. To embrace madness with Ophelia. To drink with Falstaff. To curse with Lear. To resurrect with Hermione. To lust for power with Richard. To laugh with Dromio. To revenge with Shylock. To love with Beatrice. To mourn with Cleopatra.
I’d die to stand just for a moment in that little room above the teeming streets of London.
To hear the scratch of quill on parchment. To see the inky fingers. To witness the birth of genius. To feel the love and knowledge of humanity in all its sweat-stained, tear-streaked, bloody glory.
I’d die to talk to him myself – to tell him that after all this time, his words are still ringing, his characters are still alive, his voice still speaks, and every word means just as much or more as it did more than 400 years ago.
I want to tell him, I don’t care what some people say, I know it was really him that wrote all those words all along.
I want to tell him how’s he changed me. Given me courage to love, permission to rage, grace to forgive, humility to bow.
I want to tell him, Happy 449thbirthday, William Shakespeare. Thank you for everything you’ve given to me and to countless others over all these years. And I want to wish us all many happy returns. Here’s to next year, and the 450th!