The Quote Behind the Title: “You Smiled Because You Knew”

The title for my piece, “You Smiled Because You Knew” was actually taken from a quote I originally saw on a Tumblr blog – i can read. The quote was set over an image. I loved the combination of the two. The quote was attributed to William Shakespeare.

When I saw you I fell in love
And you smiled because you knew

Beautiful, right?

I made it a favorite on my blog reader and would revisit it every now and again. Then it occurred to me. This quote sounded NOTHING like Shakespeare’s writing. I am by no means a Shakespeare expert, but the language and sentence structure seemed completely out of context. What had happened? Had someone lifted each line separately and put them together in a new way?

I was intrigued.

On to Google. The top hit was actually a Wikipedia entry for a list of common misquotations. Yet, there were many other hits that attached Shakespeare’s name to the quote… like a Top 100 list of Shakespeare quotes to use on Valentine’s Day.

It turns out that this quote actually belongs to poet, journalist, novelist and composer, Arrigo Boito.

I am fascinated by the way such a seemingly obvious error could be so widespread. You might say to me, “There’s a lot of junk and false information on the internet.” Well, yes that’s true. Yet, I wonder if this speaks to something larger.

Today, ideas spread quickly. Copy/paste keyboard shortcuts are easier to recall than friends’ phone numbers. The ideas that are shared are the ideas that win our attention. We share things that we love, even if we don’t bother to check into the validity or accuracy of these things.

It’s easy to quote Shakespeare not only because we love his work, but because he’s given us free access to share and perform it. And how ironic that his works are still among the most performed today.

He’s given credit for beautiful quotes that aren’t even his.

I composed and performed “You Smiled Because You Knew” completely on an iPad. The sounds you hear are samples of real instruments, but the device I used to create the music didn’t require me to actually touch a “real” instrument. Does knowing this fact make the music less credible or authentic?

The piece is free for you to listen to and share. If the player doesn’t appear below, click here.