A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act III, Scene 2

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

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The Merchant of Venice (2004), Michael Radford, director

Act III, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice enters a new arena of combat, not one of economic or social gain, but that of love, when Bassanio, a Venetian gentleman and suitor to Portia, comes to try his hand at winning her hand. Like all the rest who have already tried, he must choose the correct casket that holds the portrait of the fair Portia, or else lose all further opportunity to wed her (by the terms of her late father’s will).

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But out of fear that he will fail in this endeavor, Portia, who loves him dearly, tries to dissuade him and trust to a future time. But Bassanio will not be kept from the object of his love with any further delay.

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Bassanio: Joseph Fiennes, The Merchant of Venice (2004)
BASSANIO
Promise me life and I’ll confess the truth.
PORTIA
Well, then, confess and live.
BASSANIO
“Confess and love”
Had been the very sum of my confession.
O happy torment, when my torturer
Doth teach me answers for deliverance!
But let me to my fortune and the caskets.
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Portia: Lynn Collins

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A Common-Place Jotting: Merchant of Venice, Act II, Scene 7

Common-Place or “Locus Communis” — a place to remember

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Michael Radford directed The Merchant of Venice (2004), with David Harewood as the Prince of Morocco

In this Act II, Scene 7 of The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has the Prince of Morocco, one of Portia’s many suitors, guess which of the three boxes (gold, silver, lead) contains her portrait. “The one of them contains my picture, Prince,” Portia tells him. “If you choose that, then I am yours withal.”

On the gold box are inscribed the words: “Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.” Placing his worth as high as that of Portia’s, he chooses the gold box and finds within this note written by her father:

All that glisters is not gold—
Often have you heard that told.
Many a man his life hath sold
But my outside to behold.
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Had you been as wise as bold,
Young in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been inscrolled
Fare you well. Your suit is cold—

*glisters is the 17th c. synonym of glitters

The Promises, the Giver

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Jacob’s Ladder Crepuscular Panorama/Wikipedia

If in all the world I could trust just you
To forever keep a promise or two
I’d give my soul to you, my dear,
With many a kiss and nary a fear
Believing your promises were safe and true
And I had nothing to fear from you.

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Edge of Original

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I’ve been on the edge of “original” all my life,
she said, reaching for the top shelf in the grocer’s aisle,
and teetering on her toes, tips of her fingers on the jam
she hoped to coax forward but pushed further back;
still probing, she continued to ruminate long-
windedly while His gaze receded farther from her
who held her origin in His heart which alone knew
who she was apart from the jam, the cart, the grocer’s
aisle while she strained in pursuit of a receding jar
leaving behind uniqueness in the receding Light.

 

DailyPostPrompt: original

Struggle’s End

The lamb has yet to lay down with the lion
There is no peace in any day and age
Look beyond your walls! Can you not see
Enemies at the gates, barbarians rising
To receive as their bounty your life,
Your fortune, your freedom denied?

So cries one, and still another rages,
Voices of confusion and calamity.
Where will you go, with whom will you struggle
To find the security you seek within your walls
Where disease and misfortune and betrayal
Lurk at corners beyond your control?

Life in all its disarray where even within your soul
The enemy lurks to cause you to despair when hope
Seems all but lost, meaning all but gone, love
All but illusion – Where then to find the truth
That sets free? Who the author and the champion?
Who the founder and the deliverer – but God?

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John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
DailyPostPrompt: Struggle

Rebuilding with You

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Things can fall apart so fast
Entropy is the law of the land
But when you come and pick me up
I know I can rebuild.

Bits of life flake away
As I go through each day
Little deaths along the way
But with you, I can rebuild.

Eternal God, you never leave
Though willfully I’ve torn apart
The life that you have given me
In Christ you help me to rebuild.

Now with thankful hope I pray
And think upon that glorious day
When in heaven I’ll rejoice and say
O God, you helped me to rebuild.


DailyPostPrompt: Rebuild

 

The Sacrifice

(A retelling of the story of Abraham and Isaac)

Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt (1634)
Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt (1634)

A weary journey, a wakeful night,
They left their camp before daylight
An old man carrying the weight of years
Wrinkled cheeks wet with tears
At hearing the young boy at his side
Prattle on with childish pride
That he alone had been chosen
To help his father on this mission.

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The Tricky Quandary

Say, it’s tricky, quite tricky, isn’t it,
To talk to a squirrel or a rock or a tree
Or a painting by your favorite artist
And believe that somehow it can see
The heart of you that can bleed
And give you all that you desperately need?

Or maybe you talk to the farmer as he hoes
Or the doctor you pay two hundred by the hour
Or your friend who is trying on her clothes
Or the starry-eyed fan who brings you a flower
And say there’s a part of you that’s dying inside
A soul-crushing pain from which you can’t hide.

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Memories and Refrigerator Doors

(An ode of sheer gratitude to a wondrous blank space that invites our creative attention) 

Memories and refrigerator doors
Blank spaces covered with magnetic miasma
Of memories old, up and coming, and new,
Now I want to remember you, each one,
Refrigerator doors of bygone days
And the door I opened just today.

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