Pubdate: Thu, 20 Aug 2015
Source: Sun Times, The (Owen Sound, CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Owen Sound Sun Times
Author: Tom Mills
Page: A4


Many theatre-lovers think Shakespeare is dope. Now it's being
suggested that he smoked the stuff.

Last month some anthropologists announced that four 17th century pipes 
unearthed from Shakespeare's garden contain traces of cannabis. Whoa! 
Maybe that explains that line from MacBeth: "Is this a dagger which I 
see before me, Dude?"

Who knew that Sir Walter Raleigh brought something wackier than
tobacco and rolling papers back from his expeditions to the New World?

If the bard were alive, methinks he'd claim those pipes really
belonged to his best bud Ben Jonson.

And some scholars might speculate that the pot pipes actually
originated with Christopher Marlow or Sir Francis Bacon, who many
think ghost-wrote Shakespeare's plays.

But the head anthropologist, oddly named Thackeray, cites references
in the bard's sonnets to "noted weed" and "compounds strange" as
supporting evidence that we should be calling Will the Stratford Stoner.

This "news" prompted me to conduct an archeological dig in my garage
in search of a thesis that I wrote shortly before university officials
suggested I probably should continue my studies elsewhere.

As I recall it was titled "Bud of Avon: Shakespeare's Time Was Out of 

That was my second choice of topics, something I latched onto hastily
after learning that Lady MacBeth was not referring to an incontinent
household pet when she lamented, "Out, damn'd Spot."

(By the way, I've since discovered that "winter of our discontent"
does not refer to February in Wawa and "this great state of fools" is
not inscribed over the main doorway of Queen's Park.)

My scholarship for the thesis consisted of plucking such stuff as
pot-induced dreams are made on from the seeds and stems in
Shakespeare's sonnets and plays.

What I found convinced me that his Globe Theatre must have burned down
because someone sparked a joint. Surely there was reefer in the
rafters, pot in the pit.

Take "weed," for example. Shakespeare offers readers and audiences a
whole slew of cannabis varietals in his works, waxing elegiac about
"snow-white weed" and "humble weed" and "fat weed" and even "weed wide
enough to wrap a fairy in."

Among his passages of horticultural advice is "gather honey from the

Occasional bad trips might have led him to curse "rank weed" and "the
basest weed." Uneasy lies the head and all that.

As my essay title suggested, "joint" rolls out from time to time in
pothead Shakespeare's plays, even "joint by joint." One character
puffs, "I would not do such thing for a joint."

And if a reference to "the charmed pot" still has you doubting if Will
inhaled, consider his praise of "the sweetest bud" and "this bud of

"Eat my bud," one character says, sounding a lot like Jimi Hendrix.
"Bud and be blasted."

"Fetch me this herb" and "light on such another herb," writes the
'wright, later going into withdrawal when there is "no grass, herb,
leaf or weed."

"I'll now take of thy drug . . . the drug he gave me . . . a drug of
such damned nature," tokes the reefer-maddened dramatist.

And later, "Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs."

Hallucinogens might also have been involved. In one play Shakespeare
talks of finding "tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons
in stones and good in everything."

And couldn't his most popular comedy, replete with fairies, magical
herbs and potions, have been called A Midsummer Night's Acid Trip?

Anyway, my professor, perhaps well possessed of a secret stash,
declared my paper was more than a tale told by an idiot and awarded it
a "doobie plus."

So put that in your pipe and smoke it. Or as Shakespeare might have
said, give Caesar his props.
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MAP posted-by: Matt