Sonnet for Advent 16: Sonnet 106

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Photo: commonswikimedia

Photo: commonswikimedia

On re-reading this exquisitely musical poem just now it made me think most of The Winter’s Tale and of King Leontes staring in wonder at the statue of his supposedly dead wife, Queen Hermione, who then comes to life before his eyes. He is almost dumbstruck as distant memories co-mingle with present guilt and grief and start to form a new life, a fresh start.

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme,
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights;
Then in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their antique pen would have expressed
Even such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring,
And for they looked but with divining eyes
They had not skill enough your worth to sing;
For we which now behold these present days
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.

Click on the post below to hear Sonnet 106 read by my friend and colleague Jose Perez Diez, a Ph.D. student at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham and Assistant Editor of reviewingshakespeare.com

You might like to visit a similar Shakespeare for Advent project led by students at the University of Tubingen by clicking 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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