April 2, 2020

Poem to Read Aloud: A Shakespeare Sonnet for your Quarantine

Poems to Read Aloud , Resources , Public Speaking , The Buckley Experience

The Buckley School's founder, Reid Buckley, believed that all speakers should hone their speaking skills by reading poetry out loud. Each month in our magazine, we'll keep that worthwhile practice alive by including a poem for you to read aloud. 

"Much of his work was composed, if not in lockdown, then in the shadow of a highly infectious disease without a known cure."

– Shakespeare scholar Emma Smith

No doubt you've seen at least one tweet telling you to make the most of your coronavirus quarantine that goes something like this: When he was in quarantine during the plague, Shakespeare wrote "King Lear." 

University of Oxford professor Emma Smith writes in The New York Times that much of Shakespeare's life and work played out in a time of plague and fear. She speculates on how that pandemic shaped his work and what we can learn. You can find that column here.

But we sympathize if you are too busy (or too full from stress-eating that bag of Chips Ahoy) to pen something in iambic pentameter or create your masterwork.

We suspect, however, that you might be able to manage a 14-line read aloud, one that will delight your quarantine-mates AND improve your public speaking.

So we offer you this Shakespearean sonnet, which may capture just how you're feeling if you happen to be staying at home with a loved one these days. 

Sonnet 130: My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun

By William Shakespeare

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
   And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
   As any she belied with false compare.

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