Question: What do Shakespeare and Ian Fleming have in common?
Answer: In his book, You Only Live Twice, Fleming states: “You only live twice, once when you are born and once when you stare death in the face.”
Several of Shakespeare’s early sonnets are written to encourage his young friend, a man of exquisite beauty, to beget a child. Shakespeare reminds his friend that old age will rob him of his looks, but having a child who would inherit his father’s features would be a constant reminder of the attractiveness he once had.
In Sonnet XVII, Shakespeare says that words cannot adequately describe his friend. Even if Shakespeare could truly describe him in poem, the next generation would not believe such a person could have existed. It would result in the poet being ridiculed for shameful embellishment and the poem disregarded. But, in the physical characteristics of his friend’s child, people would see the beauty of the father and know that Shakespeare was truthful in his description, thereby exonerating poet and poem.
The final couplet of Sonnet XVII is:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme.
A poet whose works are sublime and an author of spy novels, whose lives were centuries apart, wrote of the ability to live twice.