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 49

Against that time, if ever that time come,

When I shall see thee frown on my defects,

When as thy love hath cast his utmost sum,

Called to that audit by advis'd respects;

Against that time when thou shalt strangely pass,

And scarcely greet me with that sun, thine eye,

When love, converted from the thing it was,

Shall reasons find of settled gravity;

Against that time do I ensconce me here,

Within the knowledge of mine own desert,

And this my hand, against my self uprear,

To guard the lawful reasons on thy part:

To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,

Since why to love I can allege no cause.

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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