Sonnets for Advent 1: Sonnet 2

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During my recent travels to Weimar and Tubingen, it was wonderful to encounter afresh the German passion for Shakespeare.

Also, I happened to notice, that Germany has the best line in Advent calendars of anywhere I know.

When I was speaking about the Sonnets at the University of Tubingen, the students asked me which Sonnets they should read and I suggested one sonnet a day during Advent. I promised to read the same list in Stratford-upon-Avon.

So, please join us as we post one sonnet a day for each day during Advent. The Tubingen students are reading them as well and they can be heard via the university’s website by clicking here.

Most of the Sonnets you’ll hear here are being read by colleagues from The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, from The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, and by friends in Stratford-upon-Avon.

We begin with my colleague Anjna Chouhan’s reading of Sonnet 2.

Sonnet 2
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tattered weed, of small worth held.
Then being asked where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say within thine own deep-sunken eyes
Were an all-eating shame and shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count, and make my old excuse’,
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Find out more about Shakespeare’s Sonnets via our free on-line course

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
  • RE

    When I toured Germany playing Coriolanus in 1962–a college production from Cambridge–it was a little disconcerting to look out on the front row in several towns and see people with their heads in the text. When they found a speech had been cut, heads were raised and–albeit silently–their disapproval was registered or was that my paranoia! Germans know and love their Shakespeare.

  • VJ

    This is a wonderful idea – a sonnet a day for Advent. I’ll follow along!

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