My particular madness is the belief that Shakespeare’s sonnets are pertinent to our 21st century lives. The other night I watched an actor read 40 of these sonnets, accompanied by two lutes and a recorder. That actor gave me an idea. Why can’t I do this? I’m no trained Shakespearean actor and I don’t have a lute. But I do believe Shakespeare wrote for all us, and wouldn’t mind a fool like me sharing what I love most. Aloud.
Let’s start with one of the early ‘Young Man’ Sonnets, Number 3. As a young man, I was drawn to this one because of its sexual farming metaphor, and in particular to its great pun on husbandry. As an older man, I recognize the wisdom of its warning.
Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose uneared womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles, this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remembered not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.