Main Features of Shakespearean Comedy

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      It is a genre, in which Shakespeare alone is the master. For the other great comedy of the world literature, the comedy of the Moliere or Ben Jonson, is different in kind to his comedy. It is satirical and intellectual, its aim is to mock some particular vice or flaw; and it is rationally constructed so that every character and episode has its necessary part to play in fulfilling this aim. The form of his comedies is loose and the different elements in it are not integrated by an intellectual principle at all. Here they are like other Elizabethan plays. These were primarily for entertainment; and any element could be admitted to them which seemed likely to make them entertaining. The line between comedy and tragedy was vague. All we can say is that in the tragedies the dramatist seeks to entertain mainly by playing on our capacity to shudder and shed tears; whereas in the comedies the Elizabethan dramatist sets out to entertain by playing on our lighter, gayer feelings, whether humorous or sentimental. Shakespeare's comedies are a melting of all the different elements which constituted 'light' entertainment for an Elizabethan audience.

      (i) Plot in Shakespearean Comedy. First of all, holding the fabric together, there is the plot. It is never a probable, true-to-life plot, nor is it meant to be. Shakespeare's aim is to take us out of real life into a more agreeable imaginative region. The setting may be called Venice or Athens, But there is no attempt to make a realistic picture of these places; each stands for some exotic fairly-tale country; some far-fetched Land that appeals to the imagination just because it is unlike the ordinary humdrum England in which his audience was living. The same is true of its inhabitants, at least of those characters round which the plot revolves. The hero and heroine alike are figures of romance, beautiful, gallant and witty; and with the charm of their personalities enhanced by the association of high station. They are kings and queens, princes and princesses, dukes and duchesses. Doctor Johnson said: "A man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess were it for imagination." Shakespeare clearly agreed with him, when creating a heroine whose charms are to appeal with him, when creating a heroine whose charms are to appeal to our imagination, he makes her something like a duchess.

      Again, the plots in which these characters take part are fanciful to the last degree. Since Shakespeare is catering for an audience who have come to the theatre to be taken out of their own lives and not to see the sort of events that happen in their own lives, he chooses stories that run on fantastic hypothesis: a brother and sister so alike that, if dressed the same, they can be taken for each other: a man wagering a pound of his own flesh to oblige a friend: a girl deceiving her own father and lover in the disguise of a boy. And emotion that actuates the chief characters is also romantic. It is love; again, not a realistic picture of the passion in all its troubled variety but love in its lighter and more agreeable aspects, its prettiness and its absurdity - love as depicted by the court poet, and decorated with all manner of courtly graces. Blind Cupid shoots an arrow, his victim immediately forgets every other consideration: obessed and exhilarated by his passion, like someone under a magic spell, he sets forth in pursuit of the beloved object. And if Cupid shoots at him afresh, he will change his object in the twinkling of an eye without a moment's compunction.

      This plot determines the general framework of the play, but into it are fitted other elements which Shakespeare and his contemporaries though likely to enrich and diversify their sense of pleasure. There is an Elizabethan phrase - 'A Paradise of Dainty Delight'. The phrase well described the comedies, except that daintiness is not essential. Any delight has a right to be admitted to the paradise. Broad farce, for instance: this is confined to a group of characters and generally of a lower social station. They are also drawn in more realistic convention than the hero and heroine, and are caricatured pictures of English people of the period. Their very names are often English: Dogberry Sir Toby Belch, Bottom the weaver and Audrey the milkmaid.

      (ii) Poetry in Shakespearean Comedy. Above all there is the poetry. Poetry is the very texture of these plays. But its incantation is the mood induced that makes us accept the extravagance and fantasy of the plot. And it is poetry; carefully designed for this purpose; light, sweet, lyrical, it never strikes the deeper notes in poetic orchestra. There is no brass in it; it is all flute and violin. Finally, and in addition to the music of the verse, there is the actual music. The singers and instrumental players were essential members of a Shakespearean company. In these plays, Shakespeare gives them more opportunity than anywhere else except his last romances. Moreover, music is made an integral part of the play. The songs, as it were, crystallized the sentiment which is diffused over the whole drama. In As You Like It they are the woods wild songs that tell of the pleasure of the countryside and proclaim its superiority to the disillusioning complications of the urban life. In Twelfth Night they sing of the fleetingness and tenderness and frail sweetness of love. So also does the single song in Much Ado About Nothing. And the fact that love is the motive force in these plays makes their musical element particularly appropriate. For all the characters, as much as for Orsino in Twelfth Night, "music be the food of love." Indeed, it is easier to find an analogy to Shakespeare's comedies in musical compositions than in classical comedy proper. Shakespeare the comedian in closer to Mozart that to Moliere.

      (iii) Mixture of Various Elements in Shakespearean Comedy. We can use the word 'type' for Shakespeare's comedies only in a loose sense. For though they all contain the same elements, these are mixed in varying proportions. At one end of the scale is A Midsummer Night's Dream. Here all the elements are present in their most extreme form: the farce is more farcical, the fantasy more fantastic, the relation to ordinary life even slighter and more tenuous than in the others. At the farthest from A Midsummer Night's Dream stands The Merchant of Venice. The story is romantic and improbable enough, but involving as it does, the danger of a horrible death to one of the characters, it touches effectively on emotion out of harmony with the comical atmosphere. Much Ado About Nothing runs a similar risk; the sub-plot is potentially a painful one. Twelfth Night and As You Like It represents the central form of the type. All the elements appear in them, but not so etherealized as in A Midsummer Night's Dream nor blended with melodrama as in The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado About Nothing.

      It is to be wondered at how so heterogeneous and incongruous a mixture of elements as in these plays could ever combine into a satisfactory work of art. As a matter of fact, in the hands of most Elizabethan dramatist they did not. Their comedies though sprinkled with humor and poetry are too scrappy to be admired as a whole. But Shakespeare takes these flimsy bundles of scraps and, by the action of his genius, transfigures them into major works of art. He achieves unity by suffusing his whole scene by a strong and individual quality of imagination whose distinctive characteristic it is to blend continuously humour and poetry. This makes the characters, though drawn in different conventions, inhabitants of the same world. Touchstone the clown is poetical, Rosalind the heroine humorous; absurd Sir Aguecheek touches us; pathetic Viola makes us smile. The texture of each scene is like soft silk dark under one light, bright under another, a it shifts and shimmers in the movement of drama. In Lodge's Rosalynde, from which Shakespeare take the plot of As You Like It, the heroine is always serious. By flooding her and the world in which she lives with the quivering, gleaming, sparking light of his laughter and poetry, Shakespeare both harmonizes the parts into a whole and makes us accept the fantastic improbability of the story more easily.

      (iv) Characters in Shakespearean Comedy. All the same and this is the second aspect of his achievement - he gives it substance and life; the substance and life through the characters. We believe in a story because we believe in the people in it. They are individuals whose voices and manner we recognize; Shakespeare brings them to life by a thousand little strokes of observation. But, except in isolated cases such as Shylock, he takes care never to do so in such a way as to be out of keeping with his chosen comedy's mood. The elements of real human nature which he uses in order to vitalize them are all elements that are not discordant with the general lyrical key in which the whole is imposed. They are made up of the comic and pretty features of human character; the graver and the more prosaic aspects are alike excluded. 'Rosalind', says Bernard Shaw, 'is not a complete human being'. She is simply an extension in five acts of the most affectionate, fortunate, beautiful five minutes in the life of a charming woman. The same is true of Beatrice and Portia and Viola and the rest.

      (v) Feelings and Moods in Shakespearean Comedy. As with characters, so with their feelings. The gaiety and folly and pensive sentiments of love are portrayed to the life, but not its pain, its mystery, its profound influence on the character of the lover. If there is a moment of anxiety or sorrow, it passes, and leaves no mark when things go well again. The melancholy Antonio is not very melancholy at the end of The Merchant of Venice though he has been in danger of a dreadful death twenty-four hours before. It is enough for Claudio to murmur a few words of apology to Hero for her to forgive him instantly for having publicly insulted her in the most brutal fashion. Nor do we feel that either character is unconvincing. For in neither case has emotion been so powerfully conveyed as to make its swift disappearance incredible. The characters are real but only consistent with the exigencies of the plot.

      Within the play, however, there is great variety of tone. Viola and Toby, Rosalind and Touchstone and Jacques, Titania, Helena and Bottom-how many moods these represent; more moods, indeed, than can be found in satirical comedy. Shakespeare is in this sense truer of life than Moliere or Ben Jonson. Wit and poetry; laughter and sentiment, farce and fantasy; even a touch of pensive pathos, chase one another across the surface of these plays as naturally as sunshine and shadow over a stream on a breezy day of spring.

      (vi) Depth in Shakespearean Comedy. The comedy is not a shallow stream. It is here that Shakespeare's genius shows itself most wonderfully He gives his plays not only unity and vitality; he gives them depth. They make a profound comment on existence. Not a moral comment like the comedies of Ben Jonson! Shakespeare, indeed, has his morality. He disapproves of spite and hardheartedness, he mocks at vanity. He approves faithfulness and generosity of heart. Good sense also. Orsino's sentimentality, Jacques' misanthropy are shown up for the immoderate absurdities as they are, in the light of the genial smile with which they are portrayed. Yet these moral judgments are, as it were, by products of Shakespeare's work, the involuntary and incidental utterances of his natural preference, not the living center of his inspiration. His comic vision reveals itself much less in them than in his penetrating and cheerful perception of the incorrigible weakness of the human condition. For he uses the fantastic far-fetched turns of his stories as parables to illustrate his conviction that all men, from the highest to the lowest, are the creatures subject to change and circumstance. Wisely or foolishly, they plan their futures; these plans defeated by some casual unpredictable turn of events. 'Tis but fortune; all is fortune' says Malvolio. It is true of him; it is equally true of everybody else in Shakespeare's comic world.

      (vii) Vein of Humour in Shakespearean Comedy. Shakespeare's distinctive vein of humor springs from the realization that Man is comic because he is, by his nature, a victim of illusions. This is obviously true of his farcical figures. Pompous, conscientious Malvolio imagines his fastidious mistress is in love with him; silly cowardly Sir Andrew sets up a dashing young gallant; fussy illiterate Dogberry expects to be treated as a formidable officer of state; Bottom the weaver thinks he has the ability to play all the parts in Pyramus and Thisbe from the lion to the heroine. But the romantic characters are equally the victims of illusion. Orsino thinks he is in love Olivia when he is merely in love with love; Olivia loves Viola, thinking her to be a man. Beatrice, who professed to scorn all men, is tricked by a few words into giving her heart to Benedick. The more thoughtful characters in the plays observe this propensity to be drawn towards illusion in their fellows and comment on it. But they, too, are victims of the very error they perceive in others. Benedick and Jacques do not realize that they are as absurd and inconsistent as those whom they mock so wittily. The wisest of the human race are those, who like Rosalind and Viola recognize their congenital weakness and accept it-who do not try to mold their fortunes but follow where fate leads them.

      This strain of ironical wisdom in their creator gives substance and weight to the feather-light fabric of the poetry and the humor that it engenders is that profound kind of humor that proceeds from a sense of the basic incongruity in the nature of the human condition. Shakespeare does not laugh at individual men because they are weak or vain or affected. No, he laughs at all mankind, himself included; because their very essence is a bundle of contradictions, born to desire something they will never get, or that will never satisfy them if they did get it; because they are a mixture of body and soul, each always at odds with the other.

      (viii) Love in Shakespearean Comedy. In such a place, in such an atmosphere, love is the central light, the infallible intelligence, the chief source of life and happiness. And this love is identified primarily with a young woman. She is the Shakti of this universe; she is beauty; truth and rarity; and inspires similar virtues (or values) in her lover. In a Romantic comedy the main stress is on the story of these loves-a story, says Mark Hunter, "treated seriously; moving through a number of checks and trying complications to a prosperous ending." It is, besides, "a story not only of high life, but of the highest in each particular case possible." But, allied to the main story, there are invariably other stories also, but-like silken threads, of diverse colors-all are cunningly woven into a single texture, "Through complexity of plot if secured a compensating variety, both variety of character-interest, and variety of delight afforded by the alternation of two or more Romantic themes, together with a greater or lesser mixture of pure Comedy not Romantic."

      In this world, love sometimes rages like an epidemic; in The Merchant of Venice there are three marriages at the end of the play, in Much Ado About Nothing there are two, in As You Like It there are four and in Twelfth Night three. "In this climate of romance" says Gordon, "it is, of course, the rule that all the lovers shall love at once, and love absolutely. Nothing else, in this world, is to be permitted". But this is not homogeneous or monistic; while the lovers are sighing just round the corner in a tavern world or even downstairs in the buttery there are care-free creatures swearing by cakes and ale. Shakespeare would make these two antagonistic worlds co-exist somehow; the dualism of the worlds of Romance the Comedy is exceeded by a Visishtadvaita of dramatic artistry. In Gordon's words again, "Shakespeare proceeded as he always does by compromise. If Comedy laughs, Romance is not to be offended; if Love sighs, Comedy promises to put up with it to a point! The law, therefore, is one of the decency and measure. The solemnity of love is relieved by the generosity of Laughter, and the irresponsibility of Laughter by the seriousness of Love."

      (ix) The World of the Comedies. There are two groups of characters in Shakespeare's comedies:

(1) The young men and women, who dwell in that romantically devised world, of youth, and dreams, and laughter, of which he possessed, and retains, the secret; and

(2) The work-a-day people, who keep things going-plough-men, shepherds, servicemen, stewards, waiting-maids-with a kind of limbo between the two regions-between upstairs and down, all plodding, stepping, and staggering along in a world of the four elements-of food and drink and sleep and labor. You may study this double world in any of these comedies: Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It; most clearly; perhaps, in Twelfth Night. Like all these romantic comedies Twelfth Night is partly serious and partly comic; a mixture of love and fun. The love story is the plot. It is serious, solemn and poetical. The comic story is the under plot. It is not at all serious; it is anything but solemn; and it is in prose. We don’t at first know where we are when the play opens, and we very soon understand that it doesn't in the least matter. We are in the Utopia of lovers, where there is much despair, but no broken hearts.

      All these plays are sweet with music; it is a part of this fairyland, the food of love. The Young Duke, being then in perfect health, sitting among his equally healthy lords, breathes out his luxurious agonies to the God of Love. It is a picture of eternal youth, framed in a setting of music, and poetry and cushions, and flowers. What then, is the climate of these sweet tortures? Do we care? Viola comes to land:

Viola. What country, friend, is this?
Captain. This is Illyria, lady.

      Being an idle world, this world of romantic comedy of which we are speaking, there are therefore students in it - but no lectures. There are a number of university students in Shakespeare: it was one of the choices of Elizabethan youth

Some to the wards, to try their for! lines there:
some to discover islands for away
some to the studious Universities

      Young Walter Raleigh was so thorough an Elizabethan that he had done all three-fought, sailed, and studied-before he was twenty. The most notable of all the young students in Shakespeare and, one would guess, by far the most studious, is Hamlet; yet he is outside our range. The Prime and his friends in Love's Labour's Lost are nearer our mark; or that bright spark Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew. Lucentio was a graduate of the University of Rheims and is supposed by his confiding relation to have entered a post-graduate course at the University of Padua. We regret to say that there is no evidence that he even matriculated there, or, if he matriculated, that he ever did any work: unless you call it work disguising himself as a language-master, and teaching Bianca to misconstrue Ovid.

      In this climate of Romance, it is, of course, the rule that all lovers shall love at once, and love absolutely. Nothing else, in this world, is to be permitted. One glance at Olivia, and no work need be expected from Orsino for some time to come. Olivia herself, grande dame though she is, succumbs in one interview: they are all struck from heaven. Only two of these couples have the temerity to stand off for a time, and assume, at any rate, the postures of defence - I mean Rosalind and Biron, and Benedick and Beatrice and there are special reasons for that. This Utopian Love is what the Elizabethans called Fancy: bred neither in the head nor in the heart but in the eyes. We call it 'love at first sight' - and, really; I have never heard that it wears worse than any other. The eyes are not the least intelligent agents either of the head or of the heart. It has of course, some disadvantages, this remorseless way of loving, from the point of view of the performers: (1) it must be acknowledged to be extremely open to ridicule; (2) if everybody did it, there would be an end to making a comedy. True love is serious, and Comedy should amuse. It is unsocial - it cannot be hidden from you how very unsocial two lovers can be - but the subject of Comedy is Society. Comedy is a plumb figure, and holds its sides; Love is lean, and holds a hand upon its heart.

      (x) Comic Spirit is Subordinated to Romance. While Romance admits the comic spirit within a corner of the field, the area is strictly limited. Romance and the comic spirit cannot well live together on terms of equality. In Shakespearean comedy, the comic spirit has to minister to the purposes of Romance and not the other way about. The truth of this observation can be seen in how the characters of Benedick and Beatrice, though seen in a comic setting in the beginning, emerge finally as Romantic characters, with both of them acting as the Champions of hero who is subjected to such ill merited suffering. On a lower plane it is true of Dogberry and Verges also. As Peter Quennell says, "Dogberry like Bottom was intended to raise a cultured laughter."

      Satire, irony, ridicule and scorn which despite Meredith's meticulous definition of the comic spirit cannot be completely dissociated from it, are wholly foreign to the Romantic spirit. Even if they should perchance enter the play in the heterogenous entourage of Romance, they are there strictly in subordination and momentarily, either to be freely forgiven or gracefully forgotten. Where this fails to happen as in Troilus and Cressida, Romance is absent. When the Court scene in The Merchant of Venice reveals Shylock at his most horrible and the Christians also not at their very best, the scene immediately shifts to the peaceful vicinity of Belmont, where on a glorious moonlit night the run-away lovers Lorenzo and Jessica are seen in Portia's garden engaged in a highly romantic conversation bandying the names of lovers of bygone times and distant climes. In the words of Raleigh, the last Act of The Merchant of Venice is 'an exquisite piece of Romantic Comedy' and Shylock has no place there. Even Malvolio who provides so much laughter at his own expense, is finally rescued by the Romantic spirit. For, immediately after his exit the Duke thinks of him with charity, refers to him as one who has been 'notoriously abused', and even sends men after him to entreat him to peace. Bottom, the doyen of the rude mechanicals, rightfully belongs to the domain of the comic spirit, but in, Shakespeare's hands, he too becomes transfigured, if not transformed. Theseus may adopt a condescending air towards him but Bottom seems to scorn any such consideration. Stretched out on Titania's bed, Bottom enjoys his royal dream, issuing his commands and enjoying his benignity in much the same way as Theseus would do. Leave alone these humble but lovable characters, even unromantic like Don John and Duke Frederick are not beyond the pale of Romance. They are lightly sketched and are out of action-almost unperceived. In Much Ado About Nothing, Benedick's reaction to the messenger's announcement regarding the flight of Don John is of the essence of the Romantic spirit.


My lord, your brother John is ta'en inflight
And brought back with armed men to Messina.


Think not on him till tomorrow
I'll device thee brave punishment for him,
Strike up, pippers,

      And the dance begins. The villainly of Don John is certainly forgotten, probably forgiven to. Hazlitt, talking of Shakespeare's comic Muse, said that it was good-natured and magnanimous, it mounts above its query; it does not take the highest pleasure in making human nature look as mean, as ridiculous and as contemptible as possible.

      (xi) The Romantic Story. The Romantic story is really a take which any of the more dignified pilgrims of Chaucer may relate with. It deals with situations and incidents which are strange, wonderful and remote both in time and space. While places like Venice and Padua can at last be located on a map, one does not even know where Illyria is and whether it is anywhere at all. Such remoteness or even non-existence of the setting, far from impairing credibility; weakens the suspicion of improbability. What may appear fantastic in our work-a-day world, may be quite probable so long as it happens in Illyria or Messina or at a point of time which is lost inantiquity. The characters, however, with whom Shakespeare peoples these distant and fanciful places are not, however, so incredible or unreal. They may say or do things which may not happen to us every day or even once in a way; but in the Romantic setting which we have accepted, they do not appear at all improbable. They are men and women Shakespeare's audience both high and low, could easily recognize. To the more sophisticated part of his audience, the gallant gentlemen and beautiful ladies who formed the exalted environment of the Romantic story were easily recognizable. Shakespeare, for whom we know drew them or idealized from the life he knew around his patron, Lord Southampton. The humbler and more realistic characters of the sub-plots like Gratiano, Dogberry, Bottom, Sung and a host of others would have been familiar to the 'groundlings'. These two worlds, the one exalted and romantic, and the other humble and realistic, are perfectly fused and do not lie apart loosely.

      (xii) Shakespearean Comedy and Harmonious Society. In Shakespeare's mature comedy - it is worth remembering that in comedy Ben Jonson put him above the classics - he presents a harmonious society in which each person's individuality is fully developed and yet is in perfect tune with all others. While keeping to the old principle that comedy portrays characters, he profoundly modified it by deepening and strengthening each separate character, developing the relations between different characters, until the characters became the plot.

      (xiii) No Time-honoured Distinction of Tragedy and Comedy by Shakespeare. Even the time-honored distinction of Tragedy and Comedy gives no true or satisfying division of Shakespeare's plays. Othello is a Tragedy; As You Like It is a comedy; so much may be admitted. But between the most marked examples of the two kinds there is every degree and variety of tragic and comic interest, exhibited in rich confusion; so that the plays might be best arranged on a graduate scale; comedy shades into tragedy by imperceptible advance and he would be a bold man who would presume to determine the boundary. The crude test of life or death gives no easy criterion; in The Winter's Tale, Mamillius, heir to the throne of Sicily only son to Hermione, and one of the most delightful of Shakespeare's children, dies of grief and fear. Romeo and Juliet die, Troilus and Cressida survive. In some of the comedies the gravest infidelities and sufferings are lightly huddled up in a happy ending. Further, Shakespeare has no two styles for the two kinds of play. The echoes that pass from the one to the other would make a strange collection. Benedick and Hamlet speak the same tongue. "If a man does not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monuments than the bell rings and the widow weeps." So says jesting Benedick, at the height of his new found happiness with Beatrice. "Oh Heavens!" says Hamlet, in the bitterness of his soul "die two months ago, and not, forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year, but by her lady; he must build churches then, or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobbyhorse." If Hamlet is a philosopher, so is Benedick. "Is it not strange" he says of music, "that sheeps" guts should hale soul out of men's bodies ?" Another of these echoes passes from justice Shallow to King Lear. "It is the heart, Master Page," says the thin-voiced little justice; "it is here, 'tis here. I have seen the time, with my long sword, I would have made you four tall fellows skip like rats." How like to these are the words spoken by Lear, when he carried Cordelia dead in his arm; yet how unlike in effect:

I have seen the day, with good biting falchion,
I would have made them skip; I am old now.
And these same crosses spoil me.

      All the material and all the methods of Shakespeare’s Tragedy are to be found dispersed in his Comedy. Most of his themes are indifferent, and no one could predict which of them he will choose for a happy ending. Nor is there reason to suppose that the public called at one time for comic stories, another time for tragedy; and that his plots were adapted to suit the demand. The real difference is in his own mood; the atmosphere and impression which given to each play its character is reflected from his own thought, and cannot be ranged under two heads to meet the mechanical requirements of criticism.

      Conclusion. The depth that we perceive in these plays is not only the depth of Shakespeare's humorous vein. It is also depth of sentimental springing paradoxically from the very lightness of his intentions. These plays are the expression of his sense of pleasure, ordinary straightforward normal pleasure, not joy or enraptured exaltation. But pleasure can stir profound reflection if a profound mind contemplates it. Shakespeare had such a mind. For the intensity of his contemplation brings along with it an extraordinary sense of the transience and fragility of things man. He draws a curtain and discloses to us a fairyland of youthful carefree gaiety, all made up of jokes and song and light love footing it with one another in tireless dance. Then for a moment, Jaques philosophizes, Rosalind remembers her dead sister, Feste sings a song and we are aware that, with light unerring finger, Shakespeare has struck a note that reveals, he knows it all to be a shadow play that will pass-alas, how quickly! and his gaiety is made poignant by a sense of its fleetingness that sets our thoughts roving into darker regions far beyond the apparent compass of the play. As these bright figures and airy music will vanish, so, we perceive, will be in carefree mood which they embody. The pleasure of lie is as ephemeral as a dream. All Shakespeare's comedies might be called "Mid-summer-night's Dream'; and its last speech might be the last speech in all of them;

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear,

      Such moments of insights are not harsh or discordant; the dance goes on, the pulsing lilting rhythms do not flag. But the melody
modulates into a minor key to be touched with a wistful sadness. The fair faces grow pensive, as for an instant there passes over them the shadow of their mortality.

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