Poetry Friday ~ The Merchant of Venice

29 May

Hi, everyone! It’s the fourth week of the month, which means, we get a Theme Prompt! Merril D. Smith, the winner from last month’s challenge selected a quote from Shakespeare’s A Merchant of Venice as this month’s theme. Colleen’s 2020 Weekly Poetry Challenge

This week’s theme is:

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”

― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

After each good deed

no parade or accolades

Take a step higher

on heaven’s ladder until

you have reached St. Peter’s gate

I read The Merchant of Venice in high school, and I remember having mixed feelings about it. The Jewish loan shark (okay, moneylender) Shylock horrifed me with his request for a pound of flesh as payment for a loan.

Here’s a rough and short summary of the story: A man named Antonio owned a fleet of merchant ships. One day, a gold-digging friend of his, Bassanio asked him for a loan so that he could pursue a rich woman named Portia. But Antonio’s ships had not come in with his merchandise yet, so he had no money to lend him. Instead, Antonio tells his friend to ask Shylock for the loan promising that he’d pay it back once his ships return. When Bassanio asked Shylock for the loan, instead of charging extremely high rates of interest, as he usually did, the moneylender asked that a pound of Antonio’s flesh be the payment if the loan was not paid within three months.

Three months went by, and Antonio’s ships had not returned. He was told that they were lost at sea. It was time to repay the loan, but Antonio was broke. Shylock had him arrested and demanded his pound of flesh. Bassanio, now married to the heiress Portia, offered her money to pay the loan. However, Shylock held a grudge against Antonio because he considered him competition in the loan business and an anti-Semite (which he was). Shylock insisted he must be allowed to extract a pound of flesh from Antonio as per their contract.

Long story short (too late), Portia, (Bassanio’s rich wife) dressed as a lawyer (?) managed to safe Antonio’s life. She won the case against Shylock by stating that there was no mention of blood in the contract. Therefore, if he could extract a pound of flesh from Antonio without spilling any of his blood he could go ahead and do so, but if he spilled one drop of his blood he would go to jail. Of course, Shylock knew it would be impossible to cut out a pound of flesh from a man without an enormous amount of blood shed.

In the end, Shylock lost his daughter and part of his wealth to another of Antonio’s friends, and was forced to become a Christian (antisemitism). Antonio’s ships came in afterall, and he and his friends lived happily ever after with their spouses. At times, I viewed Shylock as a villain and other times as a victim. Nevertheless, The Merchant of Venice is a story worth reading.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a fabulous day!

60 Responses to “Poetry Friday ~ The Merchant of Venice”

  1. Colleen M. Chesebro May 29, 2020 at 3:58 pm #

    What an amazing analysis of the Merchant of Venice. I see a woman had to fix the situation once again by using her mental acuity!! I loved your Tanka, Sis. Take time out for you to breathe. ❤

    Liked by 4 people

    • Vashti Q May 29, 2020 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you, Sis. Right? Portia the heiress stepped in and saved the day. I’m happy you enjoyed the post. Will do. ❤ xo

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Gwen M. Plano May 29, 2020 at 4:01 pm #

    I love your poetic response to the prompt. Excellent, Vasti. Thank you for offering an analysis because I had forgotten so much. I need to re-read! Have a great weekend. ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 29, 2020 at 4:09 pm #

      Thank you, Gwen! It was my pleasure. I had recently reread it, and although the writing is beautiful my feelings about the story changed since high school. Stay safe and healthy, my friend! ❤

      Like

  3. D.L. Finn, Author May 29, 2020 at 4:05 pm #

    I remember being sickened by the pound of flesh punishment. Well, actually most of the common brutal punishments. I have to agree about good deeds shining a light on a weary world. We really need them now. Have a great and safe weekend, Vashti! Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 29, 2020 at 4:15 pm #

      As a teen, a pound of flesh seemed so horrible and deadly. To think that nowadays, people go to plastic surgeons to get rid of pounds of fat and sometimes flesh like it was nothing. What would Shakespeare say about that? Kindness, empathy, compassion, respect . . . we need all of that, right now. Thank you, my friend! ❤ xo

      Liked by 2 people

  4. olganm May 29, 2020 at 4:28 pm #

    Great poem from a great prom, Vashti. I remember watching the play at Stratford-upon- Avon once and people reacted with more horror at the insistence that Shylock convert than at the pound of flesh bit of it. I thought times had changed, for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 29, 2020 at 4:54 pm #

      Thank you, Olga! You watched Shakespeare’s play in his birth town. That’s awesome! Wow. I believe it. Times have definitely changed. Thank you! 😀 xo

      Like

  5. John W. Howell May 29, 2020 at 4:35 pm #

    Super poem and great synopsis of The Merchant of Venice. Thanks, Vashti.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Soooz May 29, 2020 at 4:39 pm #

    I loved your poem, Vashti. I’ve begun re-reading Shakespeare, how different my perspective is now to what is was forty-years ago when I first read The Merchant of Venice.

    We all need to shine our light into the darkness. I keep hearing John Lennon and Co singing “Give Peace a Chance” ☮ Great post, my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vashti Q May 29, 2020 at 5:24 pm #

      Thank you, Suzanne. I enjoy rereading the classics between my other books. My perspective has also changed since I first read this story.
      I agree. It’s funny, I thought of Bob Marley (Light Up the Darkness) when I read what you wrote. I’m happy you enjoyed the post. Enjoy the weekend! ❤ xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • Soooz May 29, 2020 at 5:49 pm #

        Stay safe, my friend. Enjoy the weekend as well. 😍

        Liked by 1 person

  7. specialk718 May 29, 2020 at 6:16 pm #

    I happened to be watching a mafia interview lol. Nice story with a happy ending

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 29, 2020 at 7:57 pm #

      Well, it’s a happy ending for Antonio and his friends. 😉

      Like

  8. yvettemcalleiro May 29, 2020 at 10:20 pm #

    Great poem! I love people can pull so much conversation out of a quote. May we all strive to be the candle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 1:43 pm #

      If I could be a light in just one person’s life I would be happy. I do strive to bring light to more than one person, though. 😉 Thank you, Yvette! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Annette Rochelle Aben May 29, 2020 at 10:53 pm #

    Your commentary on The Merchant of Venice, took me right back to my high school Shakespeare class! Love your poetic take on the prompt.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 1:51 pm #

      Hi, Annette! As I wrote the summary I was reminded of my English teacher in high school. I remember him fondly. He was passionate about Shakespeare’s writing. I’m happy you enjoyed the poem! Thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. judeitakali May 30, 2020 at 6:53 am #

    The tanka is great and I loved your summary too

    Liked by 1 person

  11. markbierman May 30, 2020 at 8:30 am #

    Nicely done, Vashti! I admit to having never read the Merchant of Venice, so I appreciated the summary.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 1:55 pm #

      Well, that makes me really glad I did it, Mark. I’m happy you enjoyed it. 😀 xo

      Liked by 1 person

  12. coldhandboyack May 30, 2020 at 9:29 am #

    I always liked the name Portia, but it seems so out of time these days. Someone gives me money and the payment is a pound of flesh? Seems like a good deal. I have many pounds to spare and a lack of money. Where do I sign up?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 2:46 pm #

      Ha, ha! You’re hilarious, Craig. I’m not sure how many liters of blood you would lose if a pound of flesh were to be extracted from you, though. Something to think about. The average adult has about 4-6 liters of blood in their body. People can exsanguinate (die) from losing half of their blood. 😮 Without medical supervision and even with Elizabethan medicine the merchant would not have survived. And let’s not forget that Shylock would choose the area to extract the flesh from and he wanted an area near Antonio’s heart. So, it would have been a raw deal back then. 😉 xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • coldhandboyack May 30, 2020 at 7:19 pm #

        Exsanguinate is another great word. You’re on a roll. I want to write about the exsanguination of Portia now.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 31, 2020 at 2:20 pm #

      Ha, ha! You sound just like me, Craig. You’re sure you’re not my brother from another mother? 😉 Ha, ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. D. Wallace Peach May 30, 2020 at 9:53 am #

    I love Shakespeare but never got around to reading this play, Vashti. It does sound anti-Semitic, so I probably won”t bother taking the time. Not so your poem. A great prompt from Merril and your poem is lovely. We need more of those good deeds these days. ❤ Be well ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 3:05 pm #

      Hi, Diana! Remember that the Elizabethan period was not so long after the Medieval period, so the Roman Catholic Church still ruled people’s lives and any other religion was demonized and vilified. The story is definitely anti-Semitic in that sense, and I could understand Shylock’s anger toward Antonio. That being said, we can’t go around killing people we dislike no matter how prejudice they may be. The story is worth reading because the notion of what is valuable and how we determine the value or worth of an object or person is the central core of the play. Although everything seems backward in the story, it made me analyze the things that I consider valuable in my life. The writing is also beautiful.
      I agree, we desperately need kindness in the world today. Stay safe and healthy, my friend! ❤ xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • D. Wallace Peach May 30, 2020 at 3:17 pm #

        Thanks for the insight into the story. Shakespeare’s writing is beautiful indeed. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  14. balroop2013 May 30, 2020 at 1:01 pm #

    Shylock haunts me even now Vashti! But I had some empathy for him as a youngster.
    Nice poem! Good deeds glow for ages.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 3:08 pm #

      Shylock was a scary figure for me too, and like you, I understood his anger and felt bad for him at times.
      I’m happy you liked the poem. Yes, indeed. Beautifully said! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  15. robbiesinspiration May 30, 2020 at 1:28 pm #

    An interesting post, Vashti. I enjoyed The Merchant of Venice which was one of my school setworks. I have never forgotten it. A great poem too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 3:11 pm #

      Thank you, Robbie! It was required reading in my high school English class, as well. It did have an impact on me as a teen. I’m glad you liked the poem. Thanks again. Stay safe and healthy! ❤

      Like

  16. Fabulous take on the response Vashti.. and I wish you had been our literary teacher at school we would have sailed through our exams using your synopsis.. A+ ♥

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 30, 2020 at 3:17 pm #

      Ha, ha! Thank you, Sally! That’s phenomenal! You get an A+ for your lovely comment. I was lucky to have an English professor that was passionate about reading, books, stories, and especially Shakespeare. He made the class fun. I remember him fondly. Stay safe and healthy, my friend! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Jan Sikes May 30, 2020 at 6:19 pm #

    I have never read “The Merchant of Venice,” but your description roused my interest. I’ve always been fascinated by Venice. Great use of the prompt! Thank you, Vashti, for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 31, 2020 at 2:10 pm #

      Hi, Jan! I visited Venice in 2007 and I’ve always wanted to go back. I was in awe that the city was built over water. My husband wasn’t too impress. He likes things shiny and new. He saw a few buildings with the paint chipping and said he preferred the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Ha, ha. I guess we were both very young then, but I loved the fact that the city was old and had character. I was impressed.
      If you like Shakespeare you’ll enjoy The Merchant of Venice.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Miriam Hurdle May 30, 2020 at 7:41 pm #

    I only watched the movie “The Merchant of Venice.” I watched it years and years ago and watched again not long ago. The first time I watched it, it made me nervous. Excellent poem from Merril’s theme, Vashti! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 31, 2020 at 2:14 pm #

      Hi, Miriam! That’s interesting. I’ve never seen the movie. Is it called The Merchant of Venice? Who’s in it?
      Thank you! I’m glad you liked the poem. It was a difficult prompt for me, but I’m glad it worked out. ❤ xo

      Like

  19. dgkaye May 30, 2020 at 10:19 pm #

    Loved it all – the image, the Tanka, and the synopsis of the Merchant of Venice. Great reminder, and most definitely worth a read again. It’s been a few decades to say the least since I read that LOL. ❤ xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q May 31, 2020 at 2:18 pm #

      Yay! I’m so happy you enjoyed the post, Debby! 😀 For a lot of us it was required reading in high school. I enjoy reading a classic book every so often. Stay safe and healthy, my friend! ❤ xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • dgkaye June 1, 2020 at 8:44 am #

        Me too Vashti. Every once in a while it’s a great idea to re-read the classics. Thank you and you too, please stay safe. ❤ xx

        Liked by 1 person

  20. merrildsmith June 1, 2020 at 6:09 am #

    Hi Vashti! Nicely done. Good deeds should be done for their own sake.

    I took the quotation totally out of context, as I didn’t want anyone to be influenced by the story, so it was good of you to clue people in on the play. Shylock is definitely a problematic character, and though he is portrayed on the one hand as the stereotypical evil money-hungry Jew (Jews were often in trade and moneylenders because they were not allowed to own property in many places), Shakespeare also gave him the speech about “do we not bleed.” Jews were not allowed to be permanent residents in England during Shakespeare’s time, since they were expelled from England in 1290. Shakespeare probably did not know any Jews–though he could have met some who passed through London–and he must have known about Elizabeth’s personal physician, who was Jewish, was executed for treason. Also, England was Church of England, not Roman Catholic during Elizabeth’s time–because of her dad, Henry VIII wanting to marry her mom Anne Boleyn, though the country returned briefly to RC during Mary’s reign. Venice, of course, was Roman Catholic, and the English word ghetto comes from the ghetto where Jews had to live in Venice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q June 1, 2020 at 2:55 pm #

      That’s right! I remember King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn’s story now. In order to marry Anne and make her queen, he had to leave the Catholic religion and created his own, so that he could get an annulment of his marriage to the Spanish queen, which was not allowed by the Roman Catholic Church. There were still many Catholics in England, though. There was a huge divide and Shakespeare himself was Catholic. Yes, I remember the origin of the word ghetto. Shylock’s speech did move me in high school and still does today.

      “Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?”

      Thanks for the fabulous prompt, Merril. It really caused a stir. Also thanks for the visit and awesome comment! 😀 xo

      Liked by 1 person

      • merrildsmith June 1, 2020 at 3:19 pm #

        You’re welcome. Sometimes I put on my historian’s hat. 😏

        Liked by 1 person

    • Vashti Q June 4, 2020 at 12:37 pm #

      I like that. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Fatima Ali June 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm #

    Absolutely fantastic

    Liked by 1 person

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