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Letter to the Editor - An open letter to my Havre High School Shakespeare teacher


Last updated 10/14/2020 at 11:24am

To Mr. Jay Pyette,

It’s been a long time. I haven’t seen you since I went slinking out of your Shakespeare class with, what was it, a D-minus, I believe? Not my proudest academic achievement, but I thank you for not failing me entirely. I’m sure I didn’t deserve a passing grade. The quality of your mercy is certainly not strained.

But I feel now is the time for me to tell the truth and shame the devil. I was not a good student. I saw little point in Shakespeare. The highlight of my time in your class was learning that a “bunghole” had a somewhat different meaning to Shakespeare than it does to me. I felt Shakespeare was too hard, with too much twiddle twaddle fie-fi-fo-fummery. I just couldn’t understand it, and didn’t see why I should have to or need to or even want to. I felt like I needed a tale told for an idiot (myself), rather than a tale told by an idiot.

And 20 years later or so, I got my wish in a website called No Fear Shakespeare. It provides a side by side translation of Shakespeare’s plays — the original text on the left and modern English on the right. Suddenly and finally, I saw the plays for what they were; beauty upon beauty. Every phrase poetry and every word chosen and placed with such care as though a gem in a diadem. My own words can’t even describe the beauty of his. He is to language as Mozart was to music. Effortless elegance, echoing the ineffable. I don’t know how he wrote with such beauty and skill, I cannot even fathom it and I am almost incredulous to believe that a human, this human named Shakespeare, did it.

But he did. And I can say that I am blessed now to be enjoying his plays. And despite your excellent instruction, Mr. Pyette, my slackish behavior that you believed to be a fault has finally paid off. Because I didn’t pay enough attention in class, I have completely forgotten the endings of all the plays! I now get to enjoy them fully and spoiler free.

Mr. Pyette, I do thank you for your time and your teaching. Your gentle hands lend us, and take our hearts. And for your dim witted and lazy students like me, there is always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

Sean Rogers

Morgantown, West Virginia


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