Sonnet 55 by William Shakespeare (read by Tom O'Bedlam)





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Uploaded on Aug 5, 2009

You can hear James Earl Jones (Darth Vader) read it here - 30th Dec 2010:

There's little doubt that this was written to a young man. The most likely chap was Henry Wriothesley (sounds like Rizzly) who was 9 years younger than Will.

Will was on his payroll and Henry got himself immortalised in verse. Whether there was more to it than that will continue to divide scholars for the rest of eternity. My guess is that there wasn't because men weren't so stuffy about showing affection then. Nor were they forced to make a decision about being on one side of the fence or the other. Maybe, just like a modern celebrity, Will maintained ambivalence to broaden his appeal.

Henry's hair looks like a L'Oreal commercial, so let me advance an alternative theory: Will wrote him this sonnet because he thought he was worth it.

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone besmear'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lover's eyes.


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