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.

Sonnet 12

When I do count the clock that tells the time,

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;

When I behold the violet past prime,

And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white;

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves

Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,

And summer's green all girded up in sheaves B

orne on the bier with white and bristly beard,

Then of thy beauty do I question make,

That thou among the wastes of time must go,

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake

And die as fast as they see others grow;

And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

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Recordings

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Downloads read by James Fenton

1Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage

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2Sonnet 130: My Mistress' Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun

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3Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee

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4Sonnet 73: That time of year thou mayst in me behold

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5Sonnet 65: Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea

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6Sonnet 19: Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws

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7Sonnet 147: My love is like a fever, longing still

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8Sonnet 20

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Books by William Shakespeare