All’s well that …runs retrograde? Something about Mars

by Yule Heibel on August 25, 2003

I haven’t gone out to spy on Mars yet, but on the 27th I’m hoping for clear skies and a good view. In the meantime, I remembered a Shakespeare quote I used for a calligraphy project when I was 15 or 16 (i.e., about the last time that Mars was this close to Earth). I recall it perfectly: Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie which we ascribe to heaven: The fated sky gives us free scope; only doth backward pull our slow designs when we ourselves are dull.

The quote came from a grab-bag of quotation fragments, but other than “- Shakespeare,” it was unattributed. Thanks to google & the internet, I now know that it’s from All’s Well That Ends Well. The speaker is Helena, “a Gentlewoman protected by the Countess of Rousillon, mother of Bertram”; her musings are in reaction to Parolles, “a follower of Bertram, the Count of Rousillon.” The two of them have been speaking of the virtues, uses, and redundancy of virginity. He advises her, and she compliments him afterward for being born under such a charitable star. But he’s a soldier, hence his ruling planet is Mars, of course. Before he can savour his manly pride, however, she reminds him that Mars appears to be running retrograde:



Betsy Burke August 26, 2003 at 5:54 am

Good old Willie the Shake- isn’t he great?

Yule Heibel August 26, 2003 at 5:32 pm

Yes, it was either blog Shakespeare or blog the entire My Ever Changing Mood album by the Style Council. (That probably already says way too much about my cultural habits, but there it is.) I opted for Shakespeare because the Style Council don’t sing about Mars…. that’s called depth!

PS: It will probably be overcast.

Joel August 26, 2003 at 9:42 pm

Is Shakespeare to blame for the whole “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” nonsense? How poetry can get out of control and start oppressing us!

Yule Heibel August 26, 2003 at 10:53 pm

Hmm, yes, I think there’s a tradition all the way back to Plato about art being a problem. And wouldn’t you know it, not only are the artists still with us in the cave, they’ve rented projection equipment. Bloody nerve!

Joel August 27, 2003 at 3:45 am

I think the danger comes when psychologists and politicians mistake art for science. No artist that I know makes that mistake.

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