Poem introduction

The British Council has supported these recordings as part of the Shakespeare Lives in 2016 programme celebrating the work of William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death.


We name our years in numbers and behold, I said,

this new one hangs ahead, plump and divisible.

I poked my cold head round the corner of December,

whose bare evenings sang to me of the future,

until I could see all 365 days laid out from east

to west. A few things stick with me:

a sea view, night-time, lights across the by and by,

wet, black shapes, perhaps the heads of seals;

the Northern Line, glowing with afterworkers –

and someone humming, unless the future is a lie;

a laptop screen: keystrokes and the words expire,

metadata, prism, nourished, homeland, boundless

informant. My beloveds, I will see all of this

and I will leave it, in one order or another, to you.


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Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott Downloads (2016)

1Keats Poems

2Fox Collar

3The Bee Poems



7The Game

8The Wood Describes How to Get Lost


10The Elements

11With what words will you describe this heart so as not to fill a book?


13Three Slender Loris Poems

14Piss Flower

15Piss Flower Poems


17Phrase Book