Some time ago, I introduced at the Juggler the idea that Shakespeare’s Pagan Funeral Speech from his late-Romance Cymbeline might make an effective Funeral Speech for Pagans looking to perform a Memorial Rite (as the play is set in Romanized-Celtic Britain, it is admiringly “Pagan” in its expression). The Witch-Gala of the New York City Book-Launch of Michael Lloyd’s Bull of Heaven: the Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan (which included a Commemorative Ritual for Eddie Buczynski) seemed an ideal opportunity to check out this premise.
My friend Gary Suto (a Minos, or Third Degree High Priest, in the Minoan Brotherhood established by Eddie Buczynski; Gary was elevated by his Minos Michael Lloyd) was the Director and High Priest for the Commemorative Ritual, and asked me to deliver “Fear No More” (Act IV, scene ii, lines 258-80). A problem with the speech is the last verse, which contains an unfortunate reference to “Witchcraft” in a category of unpleasant Supernatural Stuff to which the Deceased are no longer subject. Gary, in an inventive mood, and apparently with access to a site of Shakespeare’s Greatest Lines, constructed a “New Verse” that seems to work well, incorporated into the “Funeral Speech” of Cymbeline.
Here is the version delivered by the New York City Open Gay Men’s Pagan Circle at the Eddie Buczynski Memorial Ritual (August 19, 2012)
“Fear No More the Heat of the Sun, nor the Furious Winter’s Rages. Thou thy Worldly Task has done; Home art gone, and ta’en thy Wages. Golden Lads and Girls all must, as Chimney-Sweepers, come to dust.”
“Fear No More the Frown of the Great; thou art past the Tyrant’s Stroke. Care No More to Clothe or Eat: to thee, the Reed is as the Oak. The Scepter, Learning, Physic, must all follow This and come to Dust.”
“Fear No More the Lightning-Flash, nor the All-Dreaded Thunder-Stone. Fear not Slander, Censure Rash- thou hast finished Joy and Moan. All Lovers young, all Lovers must Consign to This and come to Dust.”
[**rewritten verse**] “Hear, Nature, hear! Great Goddess, Hear! Crown them with Flowers, and make them Your Joy- Who taught us to love Thee.”
[Cymbeline again] “Quiet Consummation have- and Renowned be thy Grave.”
Gary’s rewritten verse (to which I added a couple of small tweaks) consists of putting together lines from King Lear (Act I, scene iv, line 297: “Hear, Nature, hear! Dear Goddess, hear!”); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act II, scene i, line 27: “She- crowns him with flowers, and makes him all her joy”); and a line from Sonnet 150 (line 9: “Who taught thee how to make me love thee more”). This is a sort of ingenious re-working of Shakespeare, on Gary’s part, kind of mixing up the moods and original intentions of Shakespeare’s sources (for instance, the line in Lear is meant to be an expression of outrage and exasperation): but adding up to a nifty little Pagan Invocation: “Hear, Nature, hear! Great Goddess, hear! Crown him [her/ them] with Flowers, and make him [her/ them] Your Joy! Who taught us to love Thee!” Technically, the line from Lear is “Dear Goddess,” but I decided that “Great Goddess” was more powerful, under the circumstances, and the line from Sonnet 150 (“Who taught thee how to make me love thee more”), I decided was a bit too Shakespearean-tricky, so I “unknotted” it to a simple, linear “Who taught us to love Thee.” All in all, it seemed like an admirable Pagan salute, in the midst of this Pagan Funeral Oration, to The Goddess, asking Her to hear; to crown with flowers- making them Her joy- the Pagan deceased; before paying tribute to the Pagan deceased as an Ancestral One (or several, depending upon the memorial) who “taught us” [the surviving] to “love Thee,” that is, “to love the Goddess and the Gods.”
It seemed to play well at Eddie Buczynski’s Memorial Rite. (Be sure to deliver “renowned be thy grave” with an Elizabethan fillip, or extra syllable, on “renowned”- if you think how Wiccans say “Bless-sed Be,” you understand the Elizabethan fillip- “renown-ned by thy grave.”) My thanks to Lucky for sharing his photos.