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How A Student Chose A Shakespeare Sonnet.



M. has to memorize and recite a Shakespeare sonnet for school.


Most important criterion: No ‘thee’, ‘thou’ and ‘hath’ and shit.


My comment: I never found ‘shit’ in a Shakespeare sonnet before, so I googled it. I didn’t find any, thank God.


His final decision fell on Sonnet 130.


Next step: How do I pronounce this shit?
Again with the shit… Anyway, for a German student that’s not an easy task. He needed some help and he found Stephen Fry:





My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;

Coral is far more red than her lips' red;

If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;

If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.

I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,

But no such roses see I in her cheeks;

And in some perfumes is there more delight

Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.

I love to hear her speak, yet well I know

That music hath a far more pleasing sound;

I grant I never saw a goddess go;

My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:

And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare

As any she belied with false compare.


M. didn’t care this poem is a parody of the overdone love poems of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, nor that, in the end, it still displays ultimate love. But hell, after listening to Mr. Fry many times he did an almost perfect recital.

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"I never found ‘shit’ in a Shakespeare sonnet before, so I googled it. I didn’t find any, thank God."


Bill preferred turd and excrement :P

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"I never found ‘shit’ in a Shakespeare sonnet before, so I googled it. I didn’t find any, thank God."


Bill preferred turd and excrement :P

So, Bill says, "Aww turd!"  Maybe: "Turd and excrement!"  :o

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I love the poem. Its honesty flies in the face of its contemporaries. An excellent choice, and I'm glad his recital went well.


For a comparison, here's an article and recording of what some scholars believe Shakespearean dialect would've sounded like in his day.




and another



Thanks for the links, especially the second. Next lesson will be fun. :)

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It is hard to convey to a native English speaker how difficult Shakespeare was in high school. We had to have at least one Shakespeare play on our "list" of English books about which we could be examinated at our oral final exams, and we all kept our fingers crossed that the examiner would choose one of the other books.


Maybe Shakespeare is just as difficult though for a native English speaker as when I read 16-17th century books in my own language.

I suppose only a bilingually riased person can be the judge of that.


Thanks Adi for this charming example.


For the "original pronunciation" in the second link that Rustle posted I certainly would need subtitles. :-)

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So, Bill says, "Aww turd!"  Maybe: "Turd and excrement!"  :o

He only used turd once (in MWOW) and as a joke, so it doesn't really count :/ I'm sure the jokes were very funny when the plays were first performed but when people laugh at them now it's probably more about showing off their education...

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