There is a willow grows aslant a brook, That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream.

I really don’t go in much for the Original Pronunciation stuff – AKA OP. I find it a bit pedantic and proscriptive. But I think that is because I am an American Shakespeare advocate and I resist any notion of a correctness of the language – particularly when it comes to a language movement out of the UK. I have been fighting the perception that Shakespeare “should be” spoken in an English accent for my whole career. I will not yield to a British “correct” pronunciation now.

HOWEVER. That said. I am surely very grateful for the scholarship in this field as it yields up some interesting questions and explanations. Ben Crystal’s explanation of “From hour to hour we ripe and ripe and hour to hour we rot and rot” is full of interesting allusions to whores and STDs.

Which brings me to my question now. If Elizabethans would have heard “from hour to hour” as “from whore to whore” – I’d like to understand these hoar leaves. Because I hear “whore leaves” no matter how I say it. “Whore leave” “ore leaves” I drop the “h” it still sounds like “whore” and why on EARTH would the Queen of Denmark be using a word that sounds like “whore” in the middle of a beautiful speech recounting an innocent young woman’s death. Is she trying to make Laertes furious by using language that is insulting to his sister’s memory? I understand that “hoar” means old or grey but that’s not what it SOUNDS like – and my experience with this writer means I can never ignore the SOUND of something. So this is one of those times wherein it would be very useful to know the OP. Maybe it would all become clear.

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