Shakespeare in football

Article published on June 6, 2008
Article published on June 6, 2008

Today in our column we are going to cover a topic that sometimes even men admit is more beautiful than football. Colloquially it is described as 'the most beautiful thing in the world', as well as other less flowery words, which we won’t go into in detail here.

What we are much more interested in is how poets expressed themselves. One can talk about love like Columbian author Gabriel García Márquez in his novel Love in the Time of Cholera as the pride of manhood. As Florentino Ariza stands naked before his lover Fermina Daza, García Márquez wrote: 'He showed her his weapon.'

Or one can also escape into mysticism like German writer Hermann Hesse. In Klingsor’s Last Summer, Hesse skilfully depicts a unique link between the act of sex and Christianity: 'They drunk from the chalice'.

The unsurpassed master of obscene allusions, however, was British playwright William Shakespeare. You don’t have to be called Siegmund Freud and see a vagina in each phallus or burrow to realise that Shakespeare was one of the greats in literary history. An example of his greatness can be found in Romeo und Juliet, where Rthe protagonist’s friend Mercutio utters the following:

Now will he sit under a medlar tree/

And wish his mistress were that kind of


As maids call medlars when they laugh alone./

O Romeo, that she were,

O that she were/

An open-arse and thou a poperin pear!

This seemingly harmless verse compares Romeo’s then lover Rosalinde to a medlar tree and him with a type of pear from the Flemish town of Poperinghe, a poperin pear. In order to understand the meaning, one needs to know that medlar sounds exactly like meddler, which in Shakespeare’s times meant someone who shagged. Because of its shape, the fruit of the medlar was used as a synonym for the female genitals. The same is true for the Poperinghe pear. It reminded the Elizabethans of an erect male member with the scrotum. Poperin also sounds very like pop her in.

But we’ll leave the pleasure of translating Shakespeare’s lines word for word to our readers!