poet or dramatist?


Is the greatest writer in the English language primarily a poet or a dramatist? The easy answer, that he is both, is no answer at all. The better one, which most practicing poets of whatever age have endorsed, is that he is a poet who, wonderfully well equipped at adapting stories and devising theatrical situations, also can tame the lightning of poetry for stage performance. Readers and recitalists who have mouthed their way through “The quality of mercy is not strained”, “Time hath my lord, a wallet at his back” and “We are such stuff as dreams are made on”, feel him as a poet, and leave it to the literary critics, philosophers and historians to create their special edifices of illumination from his works. At least the poems cut from his plays don’t seem like fish on dry land the way that “Voi che sapete”, “Nessun dorma” and “When I am Laid in Earth” do when set adrift from their operas.

more from the TLS here.