Sonnet 116

This is Gabrielle’s tattoo.

Literary Tattoos: Sonnet 116 Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark 
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks 
Within his bending sickle’s compass come: 
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, 
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. 

- Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116

Peake/Shakespeare

This is Daniel’s tattoo.

I love both the quotes, especially the way that the same four words can mean two completely different things. Sometimes I tell people it’s Peake, sometimes Shakespeare! I never tell them it’s from the Moulin Rouge, because it isn’t….

I first came across the quote in Peake, it was one of those moments, when you read, that you remember. It felt like a Big Thing, and I think his poem gets across some really huge truths in a simple, effective way.

Literary Tattoos: To Live is Miracle Enough Shakespeare Mervyn Peake Macbeth

To live at all is miracle enough.
The doom of nations is another thing.
Here in my hammering blood-pulse is my proof.

Let every painter paint and poet sing
And all the sons of music ply their trade;
Machines are weaker than a beetle’s wing.

Swung out of sunlight into cosmic shade,
Come what come may the imagination’s heart
Is constellation high and can’t be weighed.

Nor greed nor fear can tear our faith apart
When every heart-beat hammers out the proof
That life itself is miracle enough.

- Mervyn Peake, “To Live is Miracle Enough”

Come what come may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.

- Shakespeare, “Macbeth

Hark, villains!

This is Lindsey’s tattoo.

Literary Tattoos: Titus Andronicus Shakespeare

Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust
And with your blood and it I’ll make a paste,
And of the paste a coffin I will rear
And make two pasties of your shameful heads,
And bid that strumpet, your unhallow’d dam,
Like to the earth swallow her own increase.

- William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus, Act 5, Scene 2

(Note: Titus Andronicus is free on Kindle.)

To be, or not to be?

This tattoo belongs to Paige.

Everyone’s heard the saying, “To be, or not to be?”, but rarely have people read the entire page long soliloquy, or for that matter even understand the meaning.

Hamlet’s speech, which begins with those words, is purely thinking out loud about life and death, and struggling to decide whether life is truly worth living if death is going to follow no matter what. By the end of the speech, he has decided that life is worth it, or that’s how I perceive it.

Literary Tattoos: Shakespeare Hamlet Literary Tattoos: Shakespeare Hamlet

“To be, or not to be, that is the question…”

- Shakespeare, Hamlet.  

Time’s Fool

Happy April 1st.

Literary Tattoos: Sonnet 116 Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

- William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116.

This tattoo belongs to Jess:

The entire sonnet is beautiful, but this particular phrase means a lot to me – I think it was Shakespeare’s way of saying that we should never give up on love, because true love is unwavering and everlasting.

The 1196 Word Tattoo

Literary Tattoos: William Faulkner Vladimir Nabokov The Merchant of Venice Telluride Sharon Olds Shakespeare Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan Rainer Maria Rilke Love Is Not a Pie Lolita Light Years James Salter I Go Back to May 1937 Charles Baxter Billy Collins As I Lay Dying Aristotle Antonya Nelson Amy Bloom Literary Tattoos: William Faulkner Vladimir Nabokov The Merchant of Venice Telluride Sharon Olds Shakespeare Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan Rainer Maria Rilke Love Is Not a Pie Lolita Light Years James Salter I Go Back to May 1937 Charles Baxter Billy Collins As I Lay Dying Aristotle Antonya Nelson Amy Bloom Literary Tattoos: William Faulkner Vladimir Nabokov The Merchant of Venice Telluride Sharon Olds Shakespeare Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan Rainer Maria Rilke Love Is Not a Pie Lolita Light Years James Salter I Go Back to May 1937 Charles Baxter Billy Collins As I Lay Dying Aristotle Antonya Nelson Amy Bloom

This is Tasia.  She explains her tattoo:

My name is Tasia Celeste, and my tattoo is a study of the unreliability of language in love relationships in literature.  The tattoo is 1196 words so far, beginning at my index finger, wrapping around my arm, my entire body, and down my leg to my foot.  The heart of it is a quote from Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying, about the uselessness of the word love.  Other passages include the entire first chapter of Lolita, Billy Collins’s great poem “Aristotle,”  a quote from Antonya Nelson‘s story “Telluride,” part of James Salter’s novel Light Years, a full Sharon Olds poem “I Go Back to May 1937” and an excerpt from another… some of “The Merchant of Venice,”  part of Charles Baxter’s story, “Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan,” part of Amy Bloom’s “Love Is Not a Pie,” and some Rilke.

Sean Pipkin @ Captain Jack’s Tattoo in Portland did the work, and the photos are by Laura Domela.