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Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Talia (216.117.98.---)
Date: July 28, 2003 06:29PM

I went to see "A Midsummer's Night's Dream" this weekend and this line stuck.

The lunatic, the lover, and the poet, are of imagination all compact.
William Shakespeare

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: July 28, 2003 08:22PM

So ... what does it mean? Compact, that is.

HIPPOLYTA: 'Tis strange my Theseus, that these
lovers speak of.

THESEUS: More strange than true: I never may believe
These antique fables, nor these fairy toys.
Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
More than cool reason ever comprehends.
The lunatic, the lover and the poet
Are of imagination all compact:
One sees more devils than vast hell can hold,
That is, the madman: the lover, all as frantic,
Sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt:
The poet's eye, in fine frenzy rolling,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!

[] />
Did slay this fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact, Hamlet: I, i
As may compact it more. get you gone; King Lear: I, iv
When my dimensions are as well compact, King Lear: I, ii
What is the course and drift of your compact? The Comedy of Errors: II, ii
Patience once more, whiles our compact is urged: As You Like It: V, iv
My heart is not compact of flint nor steel; Titus Andronicus: V, iii
If he, compact of jars, grow musical, As You Like It: II, vii
But what compact mean you to have with us? Julius Caesar: III, i
Being compact of credit, that you love us; The Comedy of Errors: III, ii
Are of imagination all compact: A Midsummer Night's Dream: V, i
And therefore take this compact of a truce, King Henry VI, part I: V, iv
And the compact is firm and true in me. King Richard III: II, ii
And all the ceremony of this compact Twelfth Night: V, i
compact with her that's gone, think'st thou thy oaths, Measure for Measure: V, i

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: marian2 (
Date: July 29, 2003 03:34AM

The meaning varies with context and form - it can mean an agreement or a bargain - as in the Hamlet quote; composed of, as in the main quote and theTitus Andronicus; or closely packed/ joined together as in Measure for Measure (and where the 20th century 'powder compact' comes from). The etymology is Latin :com - together and pangere - to fix .

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Marian-NYC (
Date: July 29, 2003 12:05PM

Hence, "lovers, lunatics, and poets, are a lot alike with respect to their uses of imagination" - ?

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: -Les- (
Date: July 29, 2003 12:31PM

Or, all poets, lovers, lunatics live in a fantasy world?


Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Henry (195.8.166.---)
Date: July 29, 2003 12:32PM

Mad, bad and dangerous to know -- Lady Caroline Lamb after her first meeting with Lord Byron.

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Talia (216.117.99.---)
Date: July 29, 2003 01:37PM

Poets and lovers have the special ability to see the beauty in life that is otherwise masked to the "ordinary" people, thus appearing to be lunatic to the "normals".

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: JP (
Date: July 29, 2003 02:15PM

Do tell.
I don't know the story.

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Keeper of Light (
Date: July 29, 2003 03:47PM

I have to agree with the lunatic and poet part, but I'm not so sure about the lover.

Personally I am a lunatic and a wanta be poet!

"Loving people is like farting in the wind; You don't actually accomplish anything, but you feel better."

~The Great and Powerful Angelia~

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: E.J. Lewis (203.162.3.---)
Date: July 29, 2003 11:53PM

Actually, he's crazy about the bitch.

Mad, bad and dangerous to know
Posted by: Henry (213.78.102.---)
Date: July 30, 2003 05:14PM

JP, you can find lots about the affair of Lady Caroline Lamb and Lord Byron on the web. Search under their names or mad, bad... Byron was evidently the pop celebrity of his day;

"But, at the insistence of a friend, the first two Cantos of Childe Harold were published in February 1812, and Byron became an overnight sensation. Women everywhere were throwing themselves at him, in some cases almost literally. Lady Caroline Lamb was the most noted and determined of these women. Byron got tired of her very soon after their affair started, and in fact, soon expressed a desire to marry Caroline's cousin, Annabella Milbanke. She turned him down and Byron consoled himself with a quick affair with Lady Oxford."

An aside! When Lord Byron was at Trinity College, Cambridge, undergraduates were not allowed to keep dogs. Instead, Lord Byron chose to keep a bear. This was a rare example of him abiding by the rules.


Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Elliot (
Date: August 01, 2003 01:04PM

"compact" here likely means rolled into one - closely associated.

What gets me is the last line: How easy is a bush supposed a bear!
A "bearing" bush? Do bushes bear things? Perhaps bush=man?
Is man equated to a bush, or visa-versa? How about it Hugh, Pam Marian, Steve.


Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Pam Adams (134.71.18.---)
Date: August 01, 2003 01:30PM

I would say that 'compact' in the Midsummer speech means 'made up of.'

On the 'bush supposed a bear,' it's 'how easily we imagine things- if we're out in the woods at night, we think that we see a bear, when it's really just a bush.' Of course, in this play, the woods are filled with lovers. Self-respecting bears are going to go somewhere else in order to have some privacy.


Posted by: Henry (213.78.127.---)
Date: August 03, 2003 09:05AM

The union of the mathematician with the poet, fervor with measure, passion with correctness, this surely is the ideal.
~ William James, Collected Essays.


Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Julia33 (
Date: August 06, 2003 01:33AM

One day we'll find it, the rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me...

- Kermit the Frog

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: dennis (
Date: August 06, 2003 11:15AM

The Lunatic has eyes only for the moon, the poet for subject and the lover for the beloved. Of course it may be that we all mistake the Sun's light
for the lunar radiance, our heart's desire for our loved one and our uncommunicated zeal for a proper subject. Thus not only compact in view
but perhaps compact in delusional origin as well.

Re: Lunatic, Lover, Poet
Posted by: Dan (
Date: August 15, 2003 09:40PM

Ine wonders how anyone ever had the courage - or foolhardiness - to try to write poetry after Shakespeare.

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