Inspiration Report

William Shakespeare, everyone’s favorite poet and playwright, may have been born today on April 23, 1564.*** 

What better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than with a William Shakespeare sonnet? 

Before you continue reading, watch a video of actor Matthew Macfadyen (aka. Mr. Darcy in the 2005 version of “Pride & Prejudice”) reciting Sonnet 29.  The poem is about a man who’s discouraged about his life until he realizes he has something that makes him richer than the richest kings: love.


Here is the full text of the William Shakespeare sonnet:

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 possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself 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 remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


In this lifetime, Shakespeare wrote 38 plays and 154 sonnets along with several other poems.  Even 400 years later, people around the world still read his works in different languages, his plays are still acted on stage by students and professionals, and Hollywood has brought his plays and his life to modern audiences on the big screen. 

People are fascinated by Shakespeare because he was a genius with words, his characters are still memorable (Romeo? Juliet?), and he speaks to all aspects of the human condition–love, humor, fear, uncertainty, pride, hope, and death.  Plus, there’s also the ongoing mystery of whether he existed as a real person or as a nom-de-plume for someone else or as a combination of people.

Whether or not you believe Shakespeare existed, there’s no doubt he is someone whose works we will never tire of reading.


***Note: While Shakespeare was baptized on April 26, 1564, his actual birth date is unclear.  We do know that he died on April 23, 1616.  Since both dates are fairly close to each other, some like to commemorate Shakespeare’s birthday on April 23, a date that coincides with the Feast Day of St. George, the legendary knight who slayed a dragon.  See for more information.

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