A jog on Shakespeare’s paths

I thought I’d mark Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (assuming he was born on 23 April 1564) with some of his references to paths and commons.  As a countryman and a walker, he knew the highways and byways.

I am indebted to the Concordance to Shakespeare by John Bartlett, Macmillan 1894 (2,000 pages of small print—how on earth did he do it without a computer?)

The concordance

The concordance

Many of the references are metaphorical of course.

‘Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads’ (Hamlet i-3-50)

‘that go the primrose way to the everlasting bonfire’  (Macbeth ii-3-22)

web primroses

‘And he is bred out of that bloody strain
That haunted us in our familiar paths’   (Henry V ii-4-52)

web waymark


But others are not:

Gloucester: ‘Know’st thou the way to Dover?’
Edgar: ‘Both stile and gate, horse-way and foot-path.’  (King Lear iv-1-58)

And for commons, there is reference to a petition ‘against the Duke of Suffolk, for enclosing the commons of Melford’ (2 Henry VI i-3-24)

Finally, there’s a jolly song:

‘Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,
And merrily hent the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.’   (A Winter’s Tale iv-3-133)

web CW sign


About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in common land, Public paths, walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A jog on Shakespeare’s paths

  1. stravaigerjohn says:

    Reblogged this on Over The Hills and commented:
    I thought you might like to read Kate’s piece on Shakespeare and paths.

  2. Gaynor Lloyd says:

    And for something you would see from a path “Daffodils that come before the swallow dares and take the winds of March with beauty” Winter’s Tale

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