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Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare

Following the big news about the finding of the body of Richard III the other day, this sonnet came to mind today as I was casting about for what to post for this week's Wednesday with the Bard. It seems a good fit for poor Richard Plantagenet, who was portrayed as such a broken, evil man by Shakespeare (who was, after all, writing the play to curry favor with Elizabeth I, the descendant of Richard's opponent, Henry Tudor).

Sonnet 29
by William Shakespeare

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 possessed,
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 remembered such wealth brings
  That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Analysis: In form, a Shakespearean sonnet, of course: rhymed ABABCDCDEFEFGG, written in iambic pentameter. This sonnet is one long sentence. The first eight lines set forth the general situation in a conditional sense: "When I am alone and unhappy with my lot in life, envying others and wishing things were different than they are", and the volta or turn comes in the ninth line with the word "Yet": "At those times, I chance to remember you, and thinking about you, my spirits rise." The final couplet concludes "Because when I remember you and your love, I feel so blessed that I would not trade places with a king."

If you're so inclined (and trust me, you ought to be), you can watch and listen to Matthew Macfadyen performing this poem here (in his lovely, deep voice):

Or if, like my friend Jules, you like your indie music (and especially your Rufus Wainwright), you might like this version better:

Kiva - loans that change lives

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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 6th, 2013 11:24 pm (UTC)

-- Jules
Feb. 7th, 2013 01:18 am (UTC)
Knew you'd like that, Jules!
Feb. 7th, 2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
What could possibly be better than listening to Darcy recite Shakespeare?
Feb. 7th, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
I know, right? I soooo love his voice.
Feb. 7th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! I enjoyed them both. Thank you!
Feb. 7th, 2013 08:59 pm (UTC)
You're welcome!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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