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Merchant of Venice, E3r

Editorial note

This project showcases the art we created using Shakespeare’s iconic words from The Merchant of Venice. We wanted to utilize his vocabulary as a springboard for our own creativity, which resulted in four original poems. These poems are made up exclusively of words that can be found from the passage below. Our hopes with this project are to transform Shakespeare’s words into our own, which may result in changed meaning but retains his original language. Our transformation or appropriation of the passage takes two forms, with each partner navigating their writing in a slightly different way.

Meg’s collection consists of the first three poems found in the document, including Priceless Eternity, Hypocrite, and Spoken like a Shattered Reflection. The dashes throughout these poems indicate the divisions between the words in their original context, to which Meg scrambled and reorganized in an attempt to create a new meaning. Meg wrote Priceless Eternity in an effort to articulate the absurdity of existence; a topic that is of great personal importance to her. Similarly, Hypocrite was an attempt to encapsulate the experience of women in our modern patriarchal society and Spoken like a Shattered Reflection strived to describe the immense impact of loss on an individuals’ wellbeing. These poems, although created using Shakespeare’s words, demonstrate very different meanings than the original play. In this way, Meg really made this play her own, manipulating the vocabulary to depict certain personal experiences that feel very meaningful to her.

Meg’s poetry takes a more radical approach than Lucy’s, more significantly altering the original meaning of the play through the removal of the original characters and more frequently breaking up the original phrasing. Lucy’s collection is made up of Debt Lives in the Heart, the fourth poem found in the document, which consists of 3 separate stanzas. Through her creation, Lucy attempted to preserve the passage’s meaning, while rewording the phrasing in a way that improves her personal understanding of the play. To do so, Lucy took a different path to create the poem which involved solely removing words, as if to “shorten” Shakespeare’s writing (as a means of simplifying). Some words were then translated into more modern language in order to make the meaning more accessible for the audience. By doing so, this appropriation can hopefully reach a more vast demographic as the original language of Shakespeare is not always the most accessible for the common reader.

Meg and Lucy’s two opposing methods of transforming Shakespeare’s passage into poetry demonstrate the vastly different ways that the same piece of writing can inspire readers as well as the unlimited amount of methods one can use to interact with literature. This project gave us the amazing opportunity to reshape Sheakspeare’s phrasing as a way of constructing a meaning more relevant to our own experiences. Therefore, the original vocabulary of the play serves as a bridge between Shakespeare’s art and our own creations, emphasizing the idea that language impacts every reader differently.


Poetry Adaptations of The Merchant of Venice

by Meg Cassidy & Lucy Shepherd



priceless eternity by Meg Cassidy

a diamond, /

a curse never / 

felt, /

dead / in her ear / why? /

so much / gone, /

so much 

to find / 

stirring / tears / 

with / no satisfaction /

there, there /

would my daughter / be / dead, /

i / would / meet / a wilderness / 

and sigh, /

loss upon loss.



hypocrite by Meg Cassidy

why / men

have ill luck too, /

thank god! / thank god! / is it true? is it

true? / 

your / good / daughter / is / spent /

in / one / sitting /

two thousand ducats / hearsed, /

torture / her / 

and / be / glad of it /

breathing / dead at / your foot / 

with / jewels in her 

ear /

so much / satisfaction / spent / stirring /

yes, / men have ill luck 


but / at / what / fee?



spoken like a shattered reflection by Meg Cassidy

i spoke /

so much / loss /

in your ear /

so much /

plague, /

torture, / 

with / a ring /

thou stick’st a dagger in me /

a / thief gone with 

so much / 

i shall never see / my precious / luck /

luck / spent in the / wreck /

wreck / you / heard / in / my breathing / 

breathing / you / cast / upon / my / tears /

tears / to / break / on / one, / two / 

nights, /

nights / to / see / my / stirring, / 

stirring / dead / at / my / loss /

of you



debt lives in the heart by Lucy Shepherd

Shy. Tuball, good news, good news / here in Genoa.

Tuball. Your daughter spent here: / fourscore ducats, in one 


Shy. You daggered me / my gold is gone from me / 

fourscore ducats, fourscore ducats, gone at once.

Tuball. Anthonios creditors / swore he cannot choose but breake.

Shy. I am glad: I will plague, I will torture. 


Tuball. A ring was traded for a monkey. 

Shy. Out her! Torturing Tuball, that was my turquoise. / From 

Leah, as a Bachelor / I would never give it away, not even for



Tuball. Anthonio is undone.

Shy. That’s true / find me an Officer / bespeake a 

fortnight before / I will take his heart if he backs out / 

if he is out of Venice, I can have freedom in my merchandize /

go Tuball, we will meet at Sinagogue, go!

Image credit: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library, copy G.176.16. The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. First Quarto. London: 1600.

Citing this page: Shakespeare, William. The Merchant of Venice, E3r. London: 1600. Cacodemon Digital Shakespeare. Edited by [your names]. Source edition: Rare Books & Manuscripts Department, Boston Public Library (copy G.176.16).