Wednesday Poetry Break: Happy Birthday Will!

Today is the presumed birthday of William Shakespeare, born 444 years ago on April 23, 1564. (Oh, I know that’s not a picture of William Shakespeare, it’s Joseph Fiennes playing young Will in “Shakespeare in Love.” Don’t be so picky — just feast your eyes!)

And what a treat today to listen to the Writer’s Almanac, and hear Garrison Keillor reading the poem below. Enjoy!

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April pérfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah yet doth beauty, like a dial hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred,
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

— William Shakespeare

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for putting up that picture of Joseph Fiennes instead of the real Shakespeare portrait. As soon as I wipe the drool from my mouth and keyboard, I’ll read the poem. 😉

  2. I love Shakespeare’s sonnets! How about #141:

    “Let me not to the marriage of true minds
    Admit impediments. Love is not love
    Which alters when it alteration finds,
    Or bends with the remover to remove:
    O No! It is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken;
    It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
    Whose worth’s unknown,although his height be taken.
    Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
    If this be error and upon me proved,
    I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”

    I had to memorize 200 lines of Shakespeare in college; had a professor who believed you couldn’t really appreciate Shakespeare unless you could recite it. I memorized the sonnet you quoted and the one I just wrote here, and a few others, plus some speeches. Now I only remember this one sonnet and the first one or two lines of about five speeches!

    (BTW, I too appreciated Joseph Fiennes!)

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