Saturday, 23 April 2016

Obama speaks. Mute wonder lurketh in men's ears (according to Newsnight)

To mark today's 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare, last night's Newsnight began each of its sections with a quote from the Bard, performed by actress Akiya Henry.

To introduced its coverage of the Obama intervention in the Brexit debate, editor Ian Katz chose a passage from Henry V.

In the play, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Ely are discussing how wonderful Henry is, and the selected passage comes from the Archbishop's most lavish outpouring of praise to the new king:
Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter: that, when he speaks,
The air, a charter'd libertine, is still,
And the mute wonder lurketh in men's ears,
To steal his sweet and honey'd sentences;
Or to put it another way: 
Bring up any complicated political topic, and he’ll untangle it as easily as if it were his own garter. And the result is that when he speaks, the very air—which is free to go where it likes—stops dead, and men stand in silent wonder, hoping to catch the benefit of his gorgeous utterances.  
Obama as Henry V? Thanks for that Newsnight!


I don't think anyone would have thought of illustrating David Cameron's performance yesterday with "Valiant Lord Talbot" from Henry VI , Part I:
Saint George and victory! fight, soldiers, fight. 
Or King Edward IV in Henry VI, Part III:
Then strike up drums: God and Saint George for us! 

Here, incidentally, was Ian Katz's view on Twitter:


  1. Thank you for translating Shakespeare. Translating Obama for Katz: "Your my best mate, but if you don't do what I say, screw you!"

    1. The translation (from a school study guide!) was somewhat superfluous, wasn't it?

      Shakespeare fact: 'Superfluous' is a word that appears 19 times in Shakespeare's plays and poems.

  2. Katz is delusional. That's more than praise: it's worship. It's way over the top, even if you're an Obama supporter. How can anyone respect his objective journalist judgment after this nonsense? I expect the halls of New Broadcasting House will be draped in black, mirrors covered, tearful Beeboids shuffling around in sackloth and ashes after their beloved Obamessiah leaves office.

  3. I can’t think of anything more likely to sway undecided voters towards the leave side than an American president, for the most transparent of reasons, issuing threats to the British public.

    1. To reply to myself and pat myself on the back, latest polls seem to bear that out.

    2. Be kind of funny if BBC Asian Network and BBC Rutland decided to run #nothelpful hit pieces on POTUS in response

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