Sonnet 73

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Please would you make a recording of Sonnet 73 – a way of marking these chilly, windswept days full of falling (or fallen) leaves (‘or none, or few do hang’)?

I’m just preparing to go to Weimar to give a key-note address to the annual gathering of the German Shakespeare Society. Their theme this time is ‘Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ and my paper is called ‘Speaking the Sonnets.’ My preparations coincided with Ben Spiller, the Artistic Director of 1623 theatre company contacting me: please would I read Sonnet 73 for a project they are leading for the autumn?

I thought you might like to know more about it and how you can take part.

Ben writes:

‘Over at 1623 theatre company, we’re all about seeing Shakespeare differently and creating opportunities for other people to do the same. Our mission is to inspire, surprise and affect people through performance, learning, participation and training; all with Shakespeare at the heart.

Our current participatory project involves asking people – including you – to enter the spirit of late autumn and early winter by making a recording of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 and sharing it with the digital world.

Here’s how…

1. Make a recording of the sonnet with your smartphone. Read it, perform it, rap it or sing it. Add sounds, ambience or music. Make it your own.

Here are the words:

SONNET 73 by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

In me thou seest the twilight of such day

As after sunset fadeth in the west,

Which by and by black night doth take away,

Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.

In me thou seest the glowing of such fire

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.

This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,

To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

2. Once you’ve created your audio file, send it to and we’ll upload it to Audioboo.

3. Have a listen to the other recordings at and leave your comments on there. Students, actors, singers, musicians, writers, educationalists and Shakespeare enthusiasts have already sent in their recordings; while most are in English, some are spoken in other languages.

Whatever you decide to do with the sonnet, make sure that you take ownership of it and put your own stamp on the recording. The words of Shakespeare are ours!

Please send your audio file to us by Friday 30 November 2012. Thank you.’

And thank you, Ben.

You can here my reading of Sonnet 73 here:


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Author:Paul Edmondson

Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_edmondson

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