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A sativa by any other name would smell as dank.
The literary Internet was recently stunned—or totally stoked—at the revelation that William Shakespeare might have been a stoner.
The evidence came in the form of cannabis residue found on early 17th-century pipes unearthed in the playwright and poet’s Stratford-upon-Avon garden. The discovery prompted many to speculate that the father of modern English may have composed his greatest works under the influence.
But we hardly need archaeologists to tell us this. The Bard’s oeuvre is packed with countless references to his marijuana habit. To wit:
1) Much Ado About Nothing: Act V, Scene II
MARGARET: Will you then write me a sonnet in praise of my beauty?
BENEDICK: In so high a style, Margaret, that no man living shall come over it; for, in most comely truth, thou deservest it.
This is considered by most scholars to be Shakespeare’s clearest admission that he could not write his famously flowery lines without getting completely blunted first.
2) All’s Well That Ends Well: Act II, Scene I
HELENA: Ere twice in murk and occidental damp
Moist Hesperus hath quench’d his sleepy lamp
Or four and twenty times the pilot’s glass
Hath told the thievish minutes how they pass
Why render the number 24 as the awkward and wordy “four and twenty”? Because ol’ Billy Bong-Rips was dropping a 420 in-joke for his loyal pothead following. Seth Rogen had nothing on this dude.
3) Hamlet: Act IV, Scene IV
HAMLET: Witness this army of such mass and charge
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puff’d
Makes mouths at the invisible event
An entire play about a spoiled prince who mopes around at home trying to decide whether he should do something or just mope some more? Yeah, pretty sure he “puff’d” that piff. Hamlet had a classic case of couch-lock.
4) Measure for Measure: Act IV, Scene I
DUKE VINCENTIO: Take, then, this your companion by the hand,
Who hath a story ready for your ear. I shall attend your leisure: but make haste;
The vaporous night approaches.
Translation: “Hurry the fuck up, we’re gonna vape in the parking lot.”
5) Julius Caesar: Act II, Scene I
PORTIA: Is Brutus sick? and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humours
Of the dank morning?
Portia here alludes to the same time-honored hangover cure that Shakespeare typically employed after a long night of ale-swigging: wake and bake. Gotta jump-start that paranoia before you stab your best friend!
6) Richard III: Act II, Scene IV
YORK: Grandam, one night, as we did sit at supper,
My uncle Rivers talk’d how I did grow
More than my brother: ‘Ay,’ quoth my uncle Gloucester,
‘Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace’
Not even subtle, man.
Photo via Wikipedia | Remix by Jason Reed
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'