Wednesday, January 10, 2018

“The man that hath no music in himself”

Not long after watching our president’s half-throated attempt to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” I turned to Nuccio Ordine’s book The Usefulness of the Useless (2017) and found these lines from The Merchant of Venice (5.1). Lorenzo speaks:

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
Aye, mark.

Knowing the words to “The Star-Spangled” is of course not proof that one is “moved with concord of sweet sounds.” And one could have a deep feeling for music without knowing the words to this song. But “treasons, stratagems, and spoils” — I rest my case.

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