Don’t Know Much ‘Bout Geography

My wife Lisa and I revisit the same debate time and time again: Do lyrics matter?  We’re both Springsteen fans, so we tend to fall on the side of the affirmative.  But every so often, a song comes out that has such a great hook, that the words really don’t matter (think Outkast’s “Hey Ya” or Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie”).  It would be nice if the words actually meant something, but to a certain extent, they’re only sound, like another instrument in the sound mix.

I know what you’re thinking:  Ol’ Bill’s gone off the pier… he’s lost it… he’s obviously cut and pasted the wrong entry into the wrong blog…

So why do I bring this up?

Shakespeare uses some geography in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, but it doesn’t make any sense.

Our boys Valentine and Proteus are from Verona.  They travel by “ship” (I.i.143) to Milan.


Only, if you check out the map, both Verona and Milan are landlocked cities… between them: about 90 miles of fairly easily traversable plain (the mountains are to the north and to the south, but the east-west passage is pretty peak-free).

Is it an error by Shakespeare?  Or does it not matter?  In this case, is the geography like the lyrics of “Hey Ya!”… just so much sound for the blank verse?

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