There is not a field of human strife in which Shakespeare did not dip his pen to enrich our understanding of ourselves and to beautify the harsh or the common. His patrons were amongst the greatest in the kingdom and ultimately he received patronage of the King himself, but Shakespeare’s subject was mankind, the individual, who in the most ordinary state are of such beautiful complexity that any drama of princes and generals is just a reflection of the politics which is played out over the milking-stool, and worldly greatness is but a surface show which will not endure beyond the span of a man’s life and fortune may end at a moment, but whatever gold leaf titles there may be, the man or woman beneath is the reality.
Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlook’d for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes’ favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun’s eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foil’d,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toil’d:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved
Where I may not remove nor be removed.