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Date Posted: 16:13:35 12/07/03 Sun
Author: Tinker
Subject: Clown Song from Twelfth Night by Shakespeare Commentary

Clown Song from Act V Scene I
William Shakepeare’s Twelfth Night

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man's estate,    &nbs;  L5
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gates,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;    &nbs;  L10
By swaggering could I never thrive,
For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,    &nbs;  L15
For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
But that's all one, our play is done,
And we'll strive to please you every day.    &nbs;  L20
---William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Summary: This is not a poem, but is meant to be a song, concluding a play. It sings of life that as a child is Ok to be foolish, but as one gets older it gets tougher. It rains everyday. But one can find an escape occasionally. There is always the play, there to please, everyday.

Form: There are 5 quatrains, predominantly iambic tetrameter, with an alternating rhyme scheme and repetitive lines. Lines 2 and 4 of the first stanza are repeated throughout the song, with a slight change to the last line.

Epiphany: The pivot come at the beginning of the last stanza, changing from a litany of trials and rainy days, to an invitation to escape a while, come on down and see us, we are here to please you.

Meaning and Themes: The song is reminder about the difficulty of everyday life but also a reminder that one can find pleasure, especially in a play.

Speaker: The narrator is minor character, Feste, a kind of court jester, servant to one of the lead characters Olivia.

Tone: The tone is light, with “a hey, ho and the wind and the rain”

Title: Although the book uses the first line of the song as a title, there really is no title.

Texture is lyrical, almost sing songy. A lot of little extra words are thrown in to accentuate the rhythm…eg. “When that I was and a little tiny boy” could have been simply When I was a boy.

Muscle is in the repetition. Not only are lines repeated but stanzas 2-4 begin with “But then I came”.

Sound Patterns, alliteration (hey,ho), consonance (knaves and thieves) and assonance (toss-pots) are all employed in this song. But repetition is the primary device used.

Surprise

Kinship, the words in this are written like a jingle, a song. The English is from the time of Shakespeare with raineth and alas, to wive…. Wording we would never use today.

Imagery: the setting is created by the “wind and rain” “the rain it raineth every day” not terribly descriptive but through repetition sets us a dreary setting.

The Poet: The “Bard” himself, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is credited with writing 38 plays and countless poems. Ben Johnson wrote of him “ He was not of an age, but for all time!” He wrote Twelfth Night or What You Will (a comedy) in 1602 at about the middle of his writing career. He was a well established playwrite and poet then, with Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Hamlet plus several others already to his credit before writing Twelfth Night.


Clown Song from Act V Scene I
Shakepeare’s Twelfth Night

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
setting the stage with a little nostalgia, “when I was very young”

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
this is nursery rhymey, at this point, wind and rain are fun when you are very young

A foolish thing was but a toy,
my foolishness, my mischief wasn’t taken seriously

For the rain it raineth every day.
this is the beginning of a reminder of the hard times “in real life it rains everyday”

But when I came to man's estate,    &nbs;  L5
now I am a man

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
but I am the same person I was when I was a small boy

'Gainst knaves and thieves men shut their gates,
but as a man my mischief caused men to shut their gates on me.

For the rain it raineth every day.
and life is hard

But when I came, alas! to wive,
getting married changes things again

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;       L10
but not entirely, I am still that little boy who wants to play

By swaggering could I never thrive,
my bullying and blustering didn’t work.

For the rain it raineth every day.
and life is hard

But when I came unto my beds,
I got old

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
but I still sing

With toss-pots still had drunken heads,       L15
I hung out with drunks

For the rain it raineth every day.
and life is still hard


A great while ago the world begun,
life began a long time ago

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain;
and there was song

But that's all one, our play is done,
and here is the end of our play.

And we'll strive to please you every day.       L20
and you can come here and find escape from the hard life, everyday.

---William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

#63

rain descends daily
trials get harder with age
hey, ho life ‘s a play
7/6/03 Judi Van Gorder

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