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 43

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,

For all the day they view things unrespected;


But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,


And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.


Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,


How would thy shadow's form form happy show


To the clear day with thy much clearer light,


When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so! 


How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made


By looking on thee in the living day,


When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade


Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!


All days are nights to see till I see thee,


And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

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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