This one’s a Holiday gift to all those poor line editors and writing teachers out there. I share your pain!
Well, the semester’s over. Released for a time, the mind wanders to strange odd thoughts – what if Shakespeare had been a college professor? Could ‘Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’ instead be “Hamlet, Instructor of Writing’? A small sample below. Ponder the possibilities.
Hamlet alone at his desk, a pile of papers await his attention.
To grade, or not to grade: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous student essays,
Or to take a red pen against a sea of misplaced modifiers,
And by opposing flunk them? To grade: to sleep;
No more; and, by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
The instructor is heir to, ‘tis a consummation
Devoutely to be wish’d. To grade, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of grading what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this run-on sentence,
Must give us pause. There’s the inane punctuation
That makes clamity of so long sentences;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of tenses mismatched,
The oppressor’s randomly placed apostrophes, the proud student’s illogic,
The pangs of dispriz’d grammar rules, the misspellings,
The insolence of proof reading forsook, and the spurns of advice
That faculty merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a blank page? Who would term papers bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary read,
But that the dread of something after the semester,
The undiscover’d country of the community college from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those students we have,
Than fly to others we know not of?
Thus the need of retention doth make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of writing tasks allotted
Is sicklied over with the pale cast of little thought,
And assignments of great simplicity and ease
With this regard their sentences turn awry,
And lose the name of English.
Hamlet picks up a paper and reads.
Horatio, Dean of Students enters.
Hamlet crumples paper and tosses it to the floor
Alas, poor Yorick. I flunked him, Horatio.
Oh well, you get the idea. Sorry, Bill.