I have afternoons free since I work part-time now in the mornings. Because I am aware of my ignorance of lots of things, and because I want to correct that, and because I like being a perpetual student, I have signed up for courses at Texas A&M and Galveston College. They let me audit courses (no grade, no credit), and I mostly sit in the back of the class and keep my mouth shut. I don’t want to insert myself in any way between the regular students and the teacher.

The best course is the Shakespeare course taught by Dr. Stephen Curley. I took this course a couple of years ago and enjoyed it greatly. The teacher had not included “Henry the Fifth” in the canon he was teaching, but he put it in and we all discussed it when he found out it was my favorite among the Bard’s plays. My memory is not what it used to be, but I think I remember reciting some lines from the play out loud at the teacher’s request. It was easy because I do it in the shower all the time.

I love Shakespeare’s works, and once is not enough to read and digest them. Hidden meanings come to light as the teacher explains the plays and Shakespeare’s sometimes obscure language and allusions become clearer. The fact that one man produced so much gorgeous work seems almost miraculous to me. And his understanding of humanity and the connection between people is uncanny. The music of his rhythms and rhymes is hypnotic and makes memorization and recital easy. I try to emulate Sir Lawrence Olivier’s diction and voice when I recite aloud, but I’m no Olivier.

But neither am I an utter failure, since my recitations aloud are pleasing to me. When my wife is out of the house and I am alone with King Harry, I can “… disguise fair nature with hard-favor’d rage …” and urge on my troops to fight, though greatly outnumbered, at Agincourt.

So, I’m excited about reading and rereading some of Shakespeare’s plays, and I’m glad to have special permission to audit the course.

Once is not enough with a lot of things, and reading and reciting and understanding the plays of the greatest of English writers is a privilege and a pleasure not to be missed. My three-volume collection of all his works and seven other books of commentary await the rereading of literary perfection.

Melvyn Schreiber is a physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Volume 3 of his essays are now available as a paperback book. If you want one, send $15 to him at 12 E. Dansby, Galveston, TX 77551, and he will mail a copy to you.

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