Episode 66 (“Shakespeare’s Magical Keyboard”)

The July 2023 episode of In a Manner of Speaking is all about William Shakespeare. Paul dives deep into the Bard, from iambic pentameter, to scansion, to scoring, to metre, to Original Pronunciation. It’s a fun exercise for scholars and professionals but also actors just starting out on their Shakespeare journey.

Paul references his Voicing Shakespeare ebook, which is a great accompaniment to this month’s podcast. For details on how to purchase and download it, go here. (It’s available both in Windows and iTunes/Mac/iPhone formats.)


Below is Edmund’s speech from King Lear, Act 1, Scene 2. To hear Paul deliver the speech in Original Pronunciation (OP), click or tap the triangle-shaped play button. (To hear Paul’s reading of the speech in a modern dialect, go here. ) And for a more complete scansion and scoring of the speech, click here.


Thou, na│ture, art│ my god│dess; ││ to │thy law ENJ
My ser│vices│ are bound. │││Wherefore│ should I ENJ
Stand in│ the plague│ of cus│tom, ││ and│ permit ENJ
The cu│rios│ity│ of na│tions││ to│ deprive│ me, HEX
For that│ I am│││ some twelve│ or four│teen moon-│shines ENJ
Lag of│ a broth│er? │││Why bas│tard? where│fore base? HEX [1]
When my│ dimen│sions ││ are│ as well │compact,
My mind │as gen│’rous,
││and │my shape │as true ENJ
As hon│est ma│dam’s iss│ue? │││Why brand│ they us ENJ HEX[2]
With base? │ with base│ness? ││ bas│tardy? │ base, base?
Who, [in │the lust│y stealth│ of nat│ure, ││] take ENJ
More com│posi│tion ││and│ fierce qua│lity ENJ
Than doth, [│within│ a dull, │││stale, tir│ed bed,]
Go t’ the │crea│ting a│ whole tribe│ of fops,
Got ‘tween │asleep │and wake? │││Well, then, TETR
Legit│’mate Ed│gar, ││ I│ must have│ your land:
Our fa│ther’s love│││ is to│ the bas│tard Ed│mund ENJ
As to│ the le│git’mate: │││fine word, — │legit│imate! HEX
Well, my │legit│’mate, ││if │this let│ter speed,
And my │inven│tion thrive, │││ Edmund │the base ENJ
Shall top │the leg│it’mate. │││ I grow; │ I pros│per:
Now, gods, │││ stand up│ for bas│tards!

[1] This line scans as a broken-backed hexameter with a silent extra beat, taking up metrical space, following brother.  This is a very rare type of line.
[2] And again, another broken-backed hexameter.

For a partial phonetic analysis of the speech in Original Pronunciation, see below. (For further analysis of OP, see Paul’s Original Pronunciation ebook.)

Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
ðəʊ    nɛːtʰə˞  a˞t mɪ gɑdɛs    tʰə ðəɪ lɑː

My services are bound. Wherefore should I
mɪ  sɐ˞vɪsɪz  ə˞ bəʊnd   ʍɛ˞fɔ˞       ʃʊd əi

Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
stand ɪ ðə pʰlɛːg ə kʰɤstəm an pʰɐ˞mɪtʰ

The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
ðə kʰju̹ɹiɑsɪtʰəɪ ə nɛːsjənz tʰə dɪpʰɹəɪv mɪ

For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
fə˞ ðatʰ əi am sɤm tʰʍɛɫv ə˞ fo˞tʰeːn mu̹nʃəɪnz

Lag of a brother?  Why bastard? wherefore base?
lag əv ə bɹɤðə˞    ʍəɪ bastə˞d     ʍɛ˞fɔ˞    bɛːs

When my dimensions are as well compact,
ʍɛn məɪ dəmɛnsjənz a˞ əz wɛɫ kʰəmpʰaktʰ

My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
mɪ məɪnd əz d͡ʒɛnɹəs and mɪ ʃɛːp əz tɹu̹ː

As honest madam’s issue? Why brand they us
az  ɑnɪst madəmz ɪsjə     ʍəɪ  bɹand ðɛ ɤs

With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
wɪ  bɛːs     wɪ bɛːsnəs     bastʰɐ˞dəɪ bɛːs bɛːs


And for further Shakespeare study, don’t forget to listen to Paul’s previous podcasts: episodes one, fifteen, thirty-six, forty-three, and fifty-eight.


(Bach’s Cello Suite #1 in G Major BMV 1007 Prelude (by Ivan Dolgunov) is courtesy of Jamendo Licensing.)