Sunday, July 20, 2014


No, seriously.  I'm talking about the 1980's sitcom, Cheers, set in Boston's Bull & Finch Pub. When I'm bored and need sound in the background I'll often turn on Netflix to stream old sitcoms like this, and earlier today we heard the Cheers theme song on the radio.

Anyway, I'm watching the pilot when Diane (eventually the love interest) comes in with her current fiance, Professor Sumner Sloan, and they are discussing how they got engaged.  Sumner paraphrases whatever he might have said and Diane corrects him, saying, "Actually, what he said was 'Come with me and be my love, and we will some new pleasure prove.'"

"Ooo!  Shakespeare!"  said I.

"Donne," said Diane.

"WTF?" quoth I.

"I kinda figured you were done when you stopped talking," says Sam the bartender (or some other pun on the word Donne, I stopped paying attention after the Shakespeare drive-by).

I wondered for a moment if they said Donne just for the joke.  I know this is Shakespeare, I have a CD ( When Love Speaks ) with Annie Lennox singing it. To the Google!

Oh look, we're both right.

The line definitely appears in The Passionate Shepherd To His Love, which is credited to Marlowe. And it's most definitely in John Donne's The Bait   (both available at the link above). Slight textual variation, Donne's line is in fact "some pleasure" while Marlowe went with "all the pleasures". Marlowe actually came first, but Diane is quoting Donne's version.

But what of Shakespeare?

This line comes from the fifth verse of Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, most of which (such as this entry) are incorrectly attributed to Shakespeare.


kj said...

The link you give is great--it gives the original and a whole host of responses. Donne's is good, but I like Sir Walter Raleigh's "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd." In it, the passionate shepherd's love gets a voice, and it starts with a beautiful conditional:

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.

The implication is that she would only be moved by his plea if these conditions were met—and they never will be.

And don't forget the marvelous use of the song as a jazz number near the beginning of Ian McKellen's Richard III. Marvelous, that is!


Leo said...

Recently, I viewed Season 1, Episode 21 of "The Rifleman," wherein the US Marshal (an American Indian) quotes Shylock's monologue to a group of prejudiced ruffians.Of course it met with deaf ears. However, it was a pleasant surprise to hear Shakespeare quoted where one would least expect.

Duane Morin said...

You might be surprised about that "where you least expect it" comment - Shakespeare was all over the old west:

Leo said...

How right you are. On 22 July, 2014, Bonanza featured a delightful parody of "The Taming of The Shrew."

kj said...

Yup! It's not just Shakespeare in the Old West—it's Shakespeare in Old Westerns!