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Old-Fashioned Romancing: Know Your Shakespeare!

Yürüyelim Seninle İstanbul'daSo, you want to sweep your Juliet off her feet and show her that behind your tough, virile exterior is a hopeless romantic. Fabulous!

You rummage through some mental notes and finally decide to melt her heart by reciting some tender poetry. Even More Fabulous!

But wait! Just because you can remember a few lines doesn’t mean you’re a regular minstrel. On the contrary, you’ll come across more pathetic than poetic if you rush into the thing without some consideration.

Here are some poetic guidelines to point you in the right direction so you’ll be a charismatic Casanova and not a dud Don Juan:


  • Put some thought into finding a piece that will send the right message – nothing depressing, or too sappy, clingy, or abstract; find something that fits your theme of classic romance. We recommend Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, which regards eternal and unchanging love.
  • Rehearse in front of the mirror – nothing ruins the mood you’re trying to set like some of the ridiculous hand gestures and facial expressions people often use to help them get the words out.
  • Record yourself reciting the piece and then critique it – you’ll be able to catch and fix anything funky that you may not recognize by just practicing it normally.
  • Make sure it’s well-memorized – this is a given, hopefully.
  • Know your poem – the WORST thing you can do is not know what you’re talking about. Analyze the metaphors in it, read something about it, and for God’s sake, know who wrote it and how to pronounce his/her name!


  • Make it awkward – by this, I mean to refrain from doing any number of  awkward things while you’re reciting your love poem. These include: staring (especially at inappropriate anatomical parts), smiling like you’re drunk and sleepy (it’s not cute, nor does it make you look sensitive or friendly), nodding when you’re reciting lines that you feel to be particularly applicable to either her or your love for her, spitting, clapping for yourself when you’re through, etc.
  • Choose a bad time – you’ll want to make sure she’s not in a bad mood or doing something when you begin. And make sure other people aren’t around; this is just for her.
  • Wear something ugly – if she means something to you, you should show her by actually molding your hair into whatever shape you think looks best (with only a moderate amount of gel), showering, brushing your teeth, and wearing some nicer clothes. Don’t even think about wearing a costume of any sort or, on the other side of the spectrum, touching those Birkenstocks!
  • Use props – just don’t.
  • Say something stupid afterward – give the romantic gesture a second or two to sink in before you say anything. Let her speak first, if you don’t know what to say; don’t let your nerves take over and make you say something ridiculous like, “um…so now what?” in order to break the ice.

This kind of romantic gesture takes a lot of commitment. But hey, so does love, if you’re really in it. And, trust me, you don’t really want to forgo all the hard work and do a sloppy job – it would be really counterproductive for the apple of your eye to think back on your recitation and remark, “umm…he tried?”

Creative Commons License photo credit: adsoy

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