The second moment came today when I marked a forum on Shakespeare's sonnets. One unfortunate and otherwise commendable student alighted upon these lines from Sonnet 17
Who will believe my verse in time to comeNot knowing the difference between 'desert' and 'dessert', she gave an interesting and imaginative reading based on the significance of Pudding in Shakespeare. Of course, we old hands know that pudding appears only in Henry IV Part I ('that roasted Manningtree ox with pudding in his belly') as part of an insult – though 'cakes and ale' make an appearance too. But I really felt for the student: a basic weakness led her far astray, and the scansion didn't help either: the metre and rhyme scheme encourage identical pronunciation between the two possibilities.
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Students: do check your spelling.
Meanwhile, I've a lot on: 2 new lectures to write ready for next week, 2 MA dissertations and 2 undergrad ones to read, and a journal article to shorten, proof and submit by Friday. Plus a trip to have a tooth extracted, an MA interview. Oh, and two funerals next week.