Radio Boston Radio Boston

Support the news

Finding Hope In 'The Winter Of Our Discontent'02:12
Download

Play
This article is more than 5 years old.

"I want to say this about our collective frustration and stress — and about 'the winter of our discontent' — a phrase coined by William Shakespeare.

I'm hearing it a lot these days — especially from some of my colleagues...It sounds just right to describe these dark, grim winter days.

But here's the thing: Shakespeare meant something very different when he wrote it.

I don't want to sound pedantic here — I just want to point out that his meaning might actually help us in these dark, cold days.

The phrase comes from Richard the III — and it's not a reference to a cold unhappy winter season. On the contrary, at the start of the play, Richard is celebrating an upturn in his family's fortunes.

"Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer in the deep bosom of the ocean buried," he says.

So, he's saying this is the winter of our discontent, as in, this is "the end of our discontent." It's been buried deep in the ocean, "transformed into glorious summer."

Of course, things didn't work out so well for old Richard. But it's still a beautiful and hopeful image.

So my point is: if we think about how Shakespeare employed the phrase, we can use it to express hope and optimism.

Yes, it's still cold and miserable and more snow is coming. But it's mid-February.

Daylight savings begins in just three weeks. And then, spring, baseball, the sweet smell of grass are not far behind.

So I'm hoping this really is 'the winter of our discontent.' If we think of what those words meant to Shakespeare, it should make us all feel a little better and hopeful.

We can thank the bard for reminding us that this too shall pass."

--Anthony Brooks

This segment aired on February 18, 2015.

Support the news