Irving Layton, “Shakespeare”

  1. In what way is the concept of Shakespeare like the idea of “God” or “Death” or “the start of the world”?
  2. The poem is divided into four stanzas. Can you briefly summarize the idea that is expressed in each stanza?
  3. How many of the quotations from Shakespeare can you identify?
  4. Layton sees Shakespeare as the poet’s “unclimbable mountain.” Can you suggest individuals who might be “unclimbable mountains” in other lines of endeavor? Are there any in your life?
  5. Do such unclimbable mountains tend to discourage or inspire people? Discuss.
  6. What is the tone of the poem? Is Layton angry? Amused? Discouraged? Envious? What reaction does he expect from the reader? Amusement? Sympathy?