I am creating a joke card for my niece and her film director husband. The content says:

"Ah, my Darling, my Drama, bespeaketh my deepest heart this day."

"Oh, Truest, I shall, I shall. So, tellest me--what thou thinkest of my shoes?"

(You need to see the pic to get the joke.)

Here, though, I'm curious about the prepositions. It seems to me if he says, "bespeakest of my heart," or he says, "bespeaketh my heart," he is saying two different things and I can choose.

I am also curious about the "of my shoes" preposition. It seems to me that, grammatically-speaking, we can't do without the "of", but its presence changes the tone and rhythm of the line.

  • I suppose you could write the final part what thou of my shoes thinkest. That prevents it from ending on the single syllable. (It's a poem, so even if it's not entirely correct, it doesn't matter.) – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Nov 25 '18 at 16:27
  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about archaic usages that learners would do well to avoid completely. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Nov 25 '18 at 16:30
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers Nope; think of is perfectly good EModE. "What think'st thou of the fair Sir Eglamour?" --2Gent – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 25 '18 at 16:43
  • 1
    @Lambie In EModE bespeak often has the sense "speak to [OBJ]", as in Ham "my young mistress thus I did bespeak", meaning Polonius spoke to Ophelia in such-and-such terms. – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 25 '18 at 18:36
  • 1
    @Lambie O my darling, my drama*, speak to my deepest heart today. ... *I have no idea what "drama" is intended to mean in this context; I imagine it's some sort of family joke about the husband's profession – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 25 '18 at 21:20

In EModE, as in ModE, imperatives employed the plain form, and might include the subject in the next position. Questions might invert ordinary verbs and not just auxiliaries.

Ah, my Darling, my Drama, bespeak (thou) my deepest heart this day.
Oh, Truest, I shall, I shall. So, tell (thou) me--what think'st thou of my shoes?

  • We are not convinced. What dost thou stir up, pray tell? – Lambie Nov 25 '18 at 17:15
  • You didn't parse the first bit. I understand the "what do you think of my shoes" part. I still think it's gibberish. One speaker says: tell me Heart, etc. The other says: Oh Truest, I shall [speak to you]. What do you think of my shoes? But, the bespeaking does not work. – Lambie Nov 25 '18 at 21:17
  • Just curious for your opinion, StoneyB – do you think this ought to be migrated to English Language & Usage? – J.R. Nov 26 '18 at 2:36
  • @J.R. It's not the sort of question that's likely to do our ordinary clientele much good. But are ELLs invariably E2Ls? :) – StoneyB on hiatus Nov 26 '18 at 12:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.