Last week, on the last day of July, I said goodbye to a dear friend at her funeral service in Southwark Cathedral.
The site has been a place of Christian worship since c. 606 AD, when the first church was erected there, and the current building became a cathedral upon the creation of the diocese of Southwark in 1905.
Throughout its history, the church has had links with many people of influence, including William Shakespeare. He was a resident of the parish of St Saviour’s (now Southwark Cathedral). His brother Edmund also lived in the parish, dying there in 1607.
So, it seemed fitting that one of the three readings at my friend’s funeral should have been written by William Shakespeare. It was delivered by her grand-daughter a short distance from both Edmund’s ledger stone and the Shakespeare Window, the left light of which depicts Puck.
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.
William Shakespeare (c.1595) A Midsummer Night’s Dream – the Epilogue of Puck (V, i. 440-455)