Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten.
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten.
Your name from hence immortal life shall have,
Though I, once gone, to all the world must die.
The earth can yield me but a common grave
When you entombed in men’s eyes shall lie.
Your monument shall be my gentle verse,
Which eyes not yet created shall o’er-read,
And tongues to be your being shall rehearse
When all the breathers of this world are dead.
You still shall live – such virtue hath my pen –
Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.
Click on the post below to hear Sonnet 81 read by Professor Ewan Fernie, convener of Shakespeare and Creativity at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.
You might like to visit a similar Shakespeare for Advent project led by students at the University of Tubingen by clicking here.