Monday, April 25, 2011

Poetry Month #3: Sonnet #29 by Shakespeare

There once was a man named William Shakespeare ... we think ... 

The six signatures of his that have survived are all different ranging from Willm Skaksp to William Shakspere ... none have the first "e" in our common spelling today.   He wrote incredible plays, from drama to comedy and sonnets ... we think ... the debate still rages about who actually wrote the work.  He lived in London ... we think ... there are only a handful of days where his whereabouts can be accounted for. 

Bill Bryson in his short biography of Shakespeare says, " ... he is a kind of literary equivalent of an electron--forever there and not there."  But, whoever he was, wherever he was, his work is a magnet that pulls us into its mystery.  Four thousand scholarly works about Shakespeare and his work are published ... every year.  Because we know so little about his life, we have plumbed his work and discovered that they "contain 138,198 commas, 26,794 colons, and 15,785 question marks ..." (Bryson)

Mystery aside, this is one of my favorites:


When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Sonnet:  meaning "little song" signifies a poem of fourteen lines that follows a strict rhyme scheme and specific structure.  Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets ... we think.

Don't miss this mini-drama reading:


  1. Sweet video. Can you imagine a voice like that reading you Shakespeare... that we might all swoon, to hear it.

  2. I kept swooning as I kept following Matthew's links of different recordings. Yummy!