Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks!

We’ve had a tremendously windy night, rain came in torrents, an almost hurricane seemed to batter the front of the house, straight off the sea, and down by the boatyard I can imagine the yachts were groaning and rattling in the storm.

I thought of my main character Beulah who spent the night in a boatyard after a row with her husband. The next morning, wandering sadly around, she bumps into someone she knows:

“It was like a hurricane, there were all sorts of crashes and bangs,” Beulah told him.

“Weren’t you frightened here on your own?” he asked.

“I didn’t even think about it,” and then she remembered Lear’s words “Blow winds and crack your cheeks!” She declaimed. “Your cataracts and hurricanes spout till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!” and she laughed at John’s amazement.

He had no idea what she was talking about, but he continued “Your sulphurous and thought executing fires, vaunt couriers to oak cleaving thunderbolts singe my white head!” and now he laughed at her, her preconceptions confounded. “Yeah I did Lear too,” he said. “When I was and a little tiny boy,” he sang softly “With hey, ho the wind and the rain, a foolish thing was but a toy for the rain it raineth every day!”

Beulah laughed ,it was so incongruous standing in a boatyard in the early hours of dawn, with a man singing a Shakespearean song to her. He turned right round, gave a little bow and sang the other verses. He was good, he was very good, his voice had the wistful sound of John Lennon but the sweeter warmer notes of Raul Malo. He finished and bowed again.

She applauded. “Hey that was so good! That wasn’t Lear!”

“Twelfth Night – I was the Clown. They always got me to be the fool or the Clown or Puck – I’d write the music, you see, so I was never the romantic lead.”

And here is the original:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!

Crack nature’s moulds, all germens spill at once

That make ingrateful man!

Fool.  O nuncle, court holy-water in a dry house is better than this rain-water out o’ door. Good nuncle, in, and ask thy daughters’ blessing; here’s a night pities neither wise man nor fool.

Lear.  Rumble thy bellyful! Spit, fire! spout, rain!

Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters:

I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness;

I never gave you kingdom, call’d you children,

You owe me no subscription: then, let fall

Your horrible pleasure; here I stand, your slave,

A poor, infirm, weak, and despis’d old man.

But yet I call you servile ministers,

That have with two pernicious daughters join’d

Your high-engender’d battles ’gainst a head

So old and white as this. O! O! ’tis foul.

…and…

When that I was and a little tiny boy,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
    For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came to man’s estate,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
‘Gainst knaves and thieves men shut the gate,
    For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came, alas! to wive,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
By swaggering could I never thrive,
    For the rain it raineth every day.

But when I came unto my beds,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
With toss-pots still had drunken heads,
    For the rain it raineth every day.

A great while ago the world begun,
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
    And we’ll strive to please you every day.

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