Poem To Read Aloud: A Shakespeare Sonnet For Your Quarantine

APRIL 2, 2020


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.



Dancing couples
Photo by cihat özsaray on Pexels.com

I was alone,

At least I was.

But now I have company,

Not that I needed it,

Not that I ever wanted it,

Now that I have it.

When I was alone

I craved the presence of others.

Now I crave solitude

More than friendship.

Much, much more.

I was happy alone,

Alone in my thoughts,

Singular in my desires.

But now I have a friend

I do not want.

A small and clumsy man,

Who treads on my toes,

Who cramps my very being,

Who only wants to do one thing.

His name? Dan Sing.

Eugi’s Weekly Prompt – “Dancing” – April 27, 2020

©Joseph R. Mason 2020


Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

Oh, Covid-19 where’s your sting?

I’ll tell you where

I’m a killing thing.

I lurk in coughs,

I hide in sneezes,

I hang around

In old men’s wheezes.

I’m out, I’m about

I’m all around you

I can’t be seen

But I’m out to get you.

You’ll not stop me

With your brand new vaccine.

I’ll just mutate

So stay in quarantine.

Corona-virus is my name

Killing people is my game.

…..and I’m good at it!

©Joseph R. Mason 2020