In case you didn’t know, April is Poetry Month. Those of you who’ve been following me for a while, know that I usually attempt the Poem A Day challenge (aka the PAD), and this year won’t be any different in that respect. I tend to reach the 30 poems in 30 days goal better in April than I do in November, but this year may prove a bigger challenge because I’m taking a few days off and it can be hard to catch up.

Now on to the surprises!

I will be sharing poetry with you today, but not my own. April 1st is also April Fools Day, and I’d be a fool if I attempted to put myself in a league with this poet; no one comes close to the master, William Shakespeare.

Many people who don’t think they like poetry or Shakespeare, have not heard it being recited aloud by someone who knows how. In the two videos below, you’ll hear beautiful recitations from talented actors who truly do know how to bring life to these sonnets.

The first is Michael York doing the Bard’s most famous sonnet (according to Google searches, at any rate), sonnet 18. You may not know the entire sonnet, but I’m pretty sure the opening lines will be familiar. The second is Judi Dench reciting my favorite sonnet, number 29. She did this off the cuff while on a talk show and I find it mesmerizing. Both are brief and won’t take more than a minute or two of your time. I hope you’ll take that time; absorb the words and sentiment. Say what you will about Shakespeare, he knew how to write a love poem, whether romantic or platonic.

I’ve included the sonnets below the videos, just in case you’d like to follow along.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

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