Sonnets for Advent 5: Sonnet 17

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Photo: wvpe.org

Yesterday the world heard the news that Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was admitted into hospital with severe morning sickness.

This sonnet, which anticipates the birth of a child, is here posted with all good wishes to the Duke and the Duchess from everyone at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

It is read by Emily Oliver, our International Courses Lead Practitioner, who is completing her doctoral research at The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

Sonnet 17
Who will believe my verse in time to come
If it were filled with your most high deserts? –
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say, “This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.”
So should my papers, yellowed with their age,
Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage
And stretchèd metre of an antique song.
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice: in it, and in my rhyme.

Find out more about Shakespeare’s Sonnets via our free on-line course www.gettingtoknowshakespeare.com

Listen to the same sonnet being read by a student at the University of Tubingen by clicking here.

You might like to treat yourself to The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s own, exclusive edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, edited by our Honorary President, Professor Stanley Wells C.B.E., and beautifully printed by Oxford University Press. Find out more 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

Download a free book written by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells about Shakespeare, Conspiracy & Authorship. Download the Book.