Reading Shakespeare with high school freshmen is a trip. It's one of my favorite units to teach. If you think a 21st century teenager can't connect with a 16th century play, you are mistaken. The plot of Romeo and Juliet will always hook them. You just have to get them to buy into the language.
One of my introductory activities is to give students a list of 25 words Shakespeare uses to talk about love. They have 20 minutes to write a love poem using at least six of the words. I then shuffle the papers for anonymity and read their poems out loud. I'm always impressed by what they come up with on the fly. I'm especially surprised at the efforts of the boys. There are lots of would-be Romeos out there. I decided to share a couple of them. I've italicized the Shakespearean words or phrases.
What is Love?
Love is a vast shore hidden in the fog.
It is a mountain you cannot climb,
a creek you cannot cross.
It is a concealed weapon,
a banished villain.
You cannot weigh it,
or compare it.
So how can you believe in it?
How can you trust it?
When it can vanish like powder
right out of thin air.
When people talk about love, it sets me on fire.
"Oh I love him." No, you're just a liar.
When you get dumped, you'll be seeing stars.
You heart is covered with scars.
You think he's sweet, but wait until the date,
and you'll see he's cheap.
During the first kiss, you'll be so nervous
you will probably miss...
and then you'll be pissed.
They say wealth can't buy love
Then why doesn't anyone listen?
They're just so dumb.
A kiss on the cheek will leave you weak.
He will get what he wants, and then he will leave.
Don't make a mistake.
Take your time and wait.
Love is NOT required.
~~ Billy Joe
Neither of these boys will likely be a poet laureate, but they both had something to say. With a few borrowed words, and several of their own, I think they said it quite well.