imageTo cut a long story, very short Geoff Le Pard recently asked me which was my favourite of Shakepeare’s Sonnets. I grabbed my ‘Complete Works’ of the great bard to peruse them for the first time in a while. Still amidst the pages, were notes of a few I must have sought out in my early 20s – perhaps unoriginally to include in a love letter.

I didn’t have time to re-read all 154 to answer the question (though, now I may and revisit this later) but by happy chance came across one that since facing death a little too closely head-on, has always disturbed me – whilst it is beautiful, especially to read aloud – I cannot bear its sentiment.

The third one amuses me as a writer and almost hit the notes of my past few weeks perfectly!

Sonnet is derived from the Italian sonetto, meaning little poem. By the thirteenth century sonnet signified a poem of fourteen lines that follows a specific structure and pattern of rhyme.

Shakespeare’s 154 Sonnets were first published by Thomas Thorpe in 1609. They follow various themes and it’s therefore excusable to have favourites for a number of moods and situations!


Sonnet XVIII

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
  So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


Sonnet LXXI

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
   Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
   And mock you with me after I am gone.


Finally, my current favourite.

Sonnet C  

Where art thou Muse that thou forget’st so long,
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend’st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Darkening thy power to lend base subjects light?
Return forgetful Muse, and straight redeem,
In gentle numbers time so idly spent;
Sing to the ear that doth thy lays esteem
And gives thy pen both skill and argument.
Rise, resty Muse, my love’s sweet face survey,
If Time have any wrinkle graven there;
If any, be a satire to decay,
And make Time’s spoils despised every where.
  Give my love fame faster than Time wastes life,
  So thou prevent’st his scythe and crooked knife.


Further reading and exploration of Shakepeare’s Sonnets can be found on the Oxquarry Books site: Shakepeare’s Sonnets and Wikipedia.

Let me know your particular favourites!