This puzzle started as an exercise in putting several 15 or 30 letter phrases into a standard blocked grid - the length as well as the requisite word breaks being the main constraints in construction. However, the exercise quickly turned into something with a hint of the macabre, once the two 30 letter phrases "I give unto..." and "the chickens have..." became viable options. So this became Eclogue's first trip into rather dark humour, both of the marital state and of morbidity generally (neither of which Eclogue are pleased to report, they have any complaints about!).
It was not by immediate design either that M_DI_S presented itself along the middle row during construction, but this also looked like too good an opportunity to miss, as Will Shakespeare bemoans his lot and gives of his all, we can but surmise as to his state of mind when he made the extraordinary bequest. The result is of course that MR (Shakespeare) DIES - alas poor Yorick etc. etc.
Now, Eclogue are sure that Anne Hathaway was probably the kindest and most gentle of folk and make no insuation to the contrary, but there was clearly a terrestrial day of judgement before the sonneteer put down his pen for the last time. And so, the chickens metaphorically represent this.
The use of long lights brought a trait that we have seen frequently in the dailies, particularly the Guardian where Araucaria, Enigmatist and the late Bunthorne are particularly noted. Eclipse followed in these hallowed footsteps and clued these phrases with several lengthy anagrams to exercise our poor solver.
The puzzle fitted nicely in the Magpie schedule, being decidedly 'A-grade' in nature and so from the hatching to the despatching proved a relatively short time indeed. We hope solvers admired our pluck and weren't spitting feathers by the end of it.
Judging by solver comments, there was a fairly staunch defence of the Shakespeares , suggesting that our tongue-in-cheek connection was probably without foundation. However, although the quote was correctly attributed, the essence was not intended to be that specific - it merely served an amusing purpose and was a 'light bite' compared to Eclogue's more usual heavy-weight offerings. The Magpie solvers commented as follows:-