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William Shakespeare Sonnets Recited And Filmed Throughout New York

To celebrate another of William Shakespeare’s “round dates” in 2014, NY Shakespeare Exchange has called on directors and actors to participate in a ground-breaking project. The Sonnet Project fuses urban settings of New York’s five boroughs with new technology and approach to film making and Shakespeare’s verse.
More from organisers:
Each sonnet video will be filmed in a unique location throughout the five boroughs of New York City, the birthplace of American cinema. From the iconic to the forgotten, we’ve chosen locations with deep cultural significance. In this way, we juxtapose the poetry of the city with the poetry of the Bard, and find a deep contemporary relevance for Shakespeare’s sometimes elusive language.
The project will span one full year, launching on Shakespeare’s 449th birthday and culminating on his 450th. Throughout the year we will release a new sonnet video every 2-3 days. The videos and all supporting materials will be available free of charge to anyone in any sector of the population and foster an unprecedented level of access to Shakespearean performance.
So, if you live in the U.S. or may be able to travel to America, grab yourself a sonnet (those untaken are currently in black) and move on to submitting a form.


  • The “starring roles” in each video are Shakespeare’s language, the specific NYC location, and the director’s interpretation.
  • Director is responsible for equipment needs.
  • New York Shakespeare Exchange will assign the sonnet location.
  • Each film should contain only one actor. A highly skilled classical actor from the files of NYSX will be cast based on each particular sonnet. Director requests for basic actor type (e.g., gender, age-range, etc.) will be taken into consideration when possible. Requests to work with a specific actor will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
  • An NYSX text coach will work with each actor on interpreting the language, and will be present “on set” to assist with rhetorical technique and clarity of Shakespearean thought. The text coach will also be available to the director for any textual analysis questions.
  • Video length must be 120 seconds or less.
  • Submitted footage must be fully edited and in an “audience ready” form. NY Shakespeare Exchange will provide logos and specifications for titles and credits.
  • The delivery format is 1080 HD 23.98P with sync sound.
  • Video must be delivered no later than April 30, 2013.*
A director may take on a secondary video, having submitted the first one. The deadline for the secondary video is July 31, 2013.
A submission form asks you to list the filming and editing software you intend to use, and whatever qualifications, links, and the names of collaborators you would like to share. If your application is successful, a formal Work for Hire Agreement will be signed between you as a director and the NY Shakespeare Exchange.
If you decide to participate, having read the information on Shakespeare in Translation, please kindly consider mentioning us as a source of information. Thanks!

The Yellow Lily of Summer

A friend of mine, painter Svetlana, sent me this photo from her home garden. This sun-brimming ‘portrait’ of a lily marks the beginning of summer and brought to mind this Shakespearean sonnet:

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And Summer’s lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And oft’ is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d:

But thy eternal Summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wanderest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

William Shakespeare, sonnet no. 18

Gavin Ewart – Shakespearean Sonnets

Michelle Puelo, Shakespeare In His Study

Back in 1976 and 1977, a celebrated British poet Gavin Ewart composed two sonnets in free verse, mentioning and contemplating William Shakespeare. In case you are unfamiliar with this name, here is what the 1989 edition of the International Authors and Writers Who’s Who tells us. Gavin Buchanan Ewart was born in on February 4, 1916 in London and received his BA and MA in Classics and English from the University of Cambridge. For a number of years he was the Chairman of the Poetry Society, and in 1984 became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He died on October 26, 1995.

Tidying Up (1976) is distinct for its choice of words: the lyrical hero tells us that some thoughts just lay, reposed, in his mind, “awaiting collection”, for they are not of a kind to be uttered (and he explains what he means). Shakespeare, Ewart claims, “owes his power to them”. These thought may well be the product of the author’s psyche, but they should also ideally be informed by the author’s travels and perambulations. If, contrary to the advice in Shakespeare’s Universality (1977), the author fails to get out and about, he “gets stuck in his own psyche” and thus “bores everyone – and that includes himself”.

The illustration is somewhat Baconian Shakespeare In His Study by an American artist Michelle Buelo.

Tidying Up (1976)

Left lying about in my mind, awaitingn collection,
are the thoughts and phrases that are quite unsuitable
and often shocking to all Right-thinking people –
penetrated by a purple penis for example
(almost a line?); and how it’s almost certain,
for Swift’s hints, that the big sexy ladies of Brobdingnag
used Gulliver as an instrument of masturbation.
Hence a tongue-twister: Glumdalclitch’s clitoris.

Though not always decorous, there’s a lot of force in phrases.
A good many poems stem from them; they start something.
More than anything Shakespeare owes his power to them
(his secret, black and midnight hags and hundreds more),
they almost consoled him – though life is pretty bloody
(the multitudinous seas incarnadine).

Shakespeare’s Universality (1977)

In one sense Shakespeare’s ‘universality’ was accidental –
due to the fact that he wrote plays. When you have so many characters
you’re bound to have so many views of human life.
Nobody can say ‘Why are all your poems about moles?’
or tell you you’re very limited in your subject matter.
A playwright’s material (unless it is outrageously slanted)
usually deals with a group of opinions; people can never say
‘Of course this play is entirely autobiographical’.

It’s interesting that Shakespeare’s Sonnets, which are
(I think we can’t doubt) completely based on his life,
are by a long way his least satisfactory verse.
It’s better for a writer, in most cases, to go out and about.
If he gets stuck in his own psyche for too long
he bores everyone – and that includes himself.

Shakespeare in Music (Mikael Tariverdiev, Sonnet 102)

Your response to the Valentine’s Day article featuring Shakespeare’s sonnet no. 22 in different languages prompted me to research the subject better… and, thankfully, I didn’t have to look too far. In Russia, the Bard’s sonnets in translation by Samuil Marshak were put to music several times. One such rendition that you will see and hear comes from the film by Viktor Titov, Adam Marries Eva, a screen adaptation of the play In Sachen Adam und Eva by Rudi Strahl. You have seen the name of Viktor Titov a few times in my articles, he directed The Life of Klim Samgin and the Russian version of Charlie’s Aunt by Brandon Thomas. Now is the time to introduce Mikael Tariverdiev, a Russian/Soviet composer of Armenian origin.

Tariverdiev is famous with the majority of people thanks to his soundtracks to people’s films: Seventeen Moments of Spring and The Irony of Fate, or Enjoy Your Bath! The former told the story of the Soviet spy at the Nazi service; the latter is a romcom that has been shown on TV every New Year’s eve since its release in 1975. Among other films where he was a composer are Romance, Russian Style and Adam Marries Eve. However, Tariverdiev composed a lot of classical music, having been taught by Aram Khachaturian, and for years the international organ music contest has been bearing Tariverdiev’s name.

What I absolutely adore about Soviet cinema – and which is critically rare in modern Russian cinema – are the adaptations of foreign literature. I mentioned before that my uncle, Vadim Derbenyov, brought The Woman in White and several other foreign classics to the Soviet screen. Viktor Titov, however, requires an absolutely different look at his work. As I’m working on translation of The Life of Klim Samgin the movie, I can barely get my head around the fact that Titov had to have known the entire novel by heart to even co-write the script, let alone to direct it. This might not sound like a great deal, unless we remind ourselves that Gorky spirt out four volumes of the life of an intellectual, and still died before completing the novel.

One doesn’t fail to notice how well Titov knew literature, poetry, in particular. The Life of Klim Samgin has a musical rendition of Mikhail Lermontov’s poem, I Go Out on the Road Alone, for its “soundtrack”. Hello, I’m Your Auntie featured an amazing performance of Love and Poverty by Robert Burns. And to “illustrate” Adam Marries Eve, Titov chose Shakespeare’s sonnets. Performed by Tariverdiev himself, sonnets illuminate and accentuate a story in the romantic comedy genre, adding blue yet hopeful notes to the narrative. The video below features Elena Tsyplakova (Eve) and Alexander Solovyov (Adam). And, last but not least, the film was released in 1980 – the year of the Moscow Olympics when I was also born.

William Shakespeare – Sonnet 102

My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear;
That love is merchandized, whose rich esteeming,
The owner’s tongue doth publish every where.
Our love was new, and then but in the spring,
When I was wont to greet it with my lays;
As Philomel in summer’s front doth sing,
And stops his pipe in growth of riper days:
Not that the summer is less pleasant now
Than when her mournful hymns did hush the night,
But that wild music burthens every bough,
And sweets grown common lose their dear delight.

Therefore like her, I sometime hold my tongue:
Because I would not dull you with my song.

SONNET 22 by William Shakespeare in Different Languages

William A. Bougereau – The Abduction of Psyche

For the Quotes on the Front Page today I chose a beautiful sonnet 22 by William Shakespeare. Although it speaks of the age difference, I pay but a very small attention to that. If it is true that our beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then so is the age. It is when we see the other person aging that we can perceive our own change. I have collected versions of this sonnet in Russian, French, German, Italian, Ukranian, and Spanish, and dedicate it to everyone who celebrates their Valentine’s, love anniversaries, or simply wants to mark the date. Needless to say, I also send it to someone special.

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 22

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time’s furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate.
For all that beauty that doth cover thee,
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art?
O! therefore love, be of thyself so wary
As I, not for myself, but for thee will;
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain,
Thou gav’st me thine not to give back again.

Sonnet 22 in Russian – by Samuel Marshak

Лгут зеркала, – какой же я старик!
Я молодость твою делю с тобою.
Но если дни избороздят твои лик,
Я буду знать, что побежден судьбою.

Как в зеркало, глядясь в твои черты,
Я самому себе кажусь моложе.
Мне молодое сердце даришь ты,
И я тебе свое вручаю тоже.

Старайся же себя оберегать –
Не для себя: хранишь ты сердце друга.
А я готов, как любящая мать,
Беречь твое от горя и недуга.

Одна судьба у наших двух сердец:
Замрет мое – и твоему конец!

Sonnet 22 in French – by François Pierre Guillaume Guizot

Mon miroir ne me persuadera pas que je suis vieux, tant que la jeunesse et toi serez du même âge; mais lorsque j’apercevrai chez toi les rides du temps, alors j’attendrai la mort pour expier ma vie, car toute cette beauté qui te pare n’est que le vêtement charmant de mon coeur qui vit dans ton sein, comme le tien en moi. Comment donc pourrais-je être plus âgé que toi? C’est pourquoi, mon amour, prends soin de toi comme je prends soin de moi-même; non pour moi, mais pour toi, puisque je porte ton coeur, que je garderai tendrement comme une bonne nourrice garde son enfant du mal. Ne compte pas sur ton coeur; si le mien expire, tu m’as donné le tien, mais non pour le reprendre.

Sonnet 22 In French – by Charles Garnier

En mon miroir comment lirai-je ma viellesse
Tand que Jeunesse et Toi vous serez frere et soeur?
Mais, quand le Temps te creusera de sa tristesse,
Mes yeux verront ma vie en proie au ravisseur.

La beauté  radieuse, Ami, qui t’illumine
Est aussi le manteau visible de mon coeur,
Car si tu vis en moi j’habite en ta poitrine,
Et, si tu vaines le Temps, je serai son vainqueur.

Pour te garder a mon amour, veille toi-même,
Comme, en ton nom cheri, je veille aussi sur moi;
Vois, je berce ton coeur sur mon souci qui t’aime,
Comme un fils de son lait, la nourrice en émoi.

Mon coeur navré, le tien connaitra l’agonie:
Tu me donnas un coeur qui point ne se renie.

Sonnet 22 in German – by Ferdinand Adolph Gelbke

Vergeblich sagt mein Spiegel, ich sei alt,
So lange Du und Jugend Spielgenossen;
Doch seh’ ich einst an Dir der Zeit Gewalt,
Dann beb’ ich, daß auch meine Frist verflossen.

Denn alle Schönheit, so verliehen Dir,
Ist nur ein Kleid, mein Herz darein zu kleiden;
Das lebt in Deiner Brust, wie Deins in mir:
Wie wär’ ich denn der Aeltre von uns beiden?

Doch deshalb, Lieber, sei voll Acht auf Dich,
Wie ich es sein will Dein-, nicht meinetwegen,
Der ich Dein Herz will hüten sorgsamlich,
Wie Wärterinnen ihre Kindlein hegen.

Glaub’ nicht, Dir blieb’ ein Herz, wenn meines bricht;
Du gabst mir Deins, zurück erhältst Du’s nicht.

Sonnet 22 in Italian – via Shakespeare Web

Lo specchio non mi convincerà che sono vecchio,
finché tu e giovinezza avrete la stessa età;
ma quando in te io scorgerò i solchi del tempo
attenderò che morte dia pace ai giorni miei.

Poiché tutta la bellezza che ti inonda
altro non è che degna veste del mio cuore
che vive nel tuo petto, come il tuo nel mio:
come potrei dunque esser io più vecchio?

Perciò, amore, abbi cura di te stesso
così come io farò, non per me, ma per te
custodendo il tuo cuore che terrò così prezioso
qual tenera nutrice il suo bimbo da mal protegga.

Non sperare nel tuo cuore quando il mio sarà distrutto:
tu mi hai donato il tuo non per averlo indietro.

Sonnet 22 n Ukranian – by Maxim Tarnavsky

Не вмовить й дзеркало, що я старий,
Як довго з юністю ти молодець.
Коли ж борозни в тебе час порив,
То жду я смерти й дням моїм кінець.
Бо вся краса, що покрива тебе,
Для серця мого відповідний стрій,
Що в тебе в грудях, як в мені твоє.
То звідки в мене старший вік, ніж твій?
Тому, мій любий, дбай про себе ти,
Як журюсь я про вік твій, а не свій,
Та буду серце я твоє нести,
Як няня немовля в руці м’якій.

Не буде й твого серця, як моє помре,
Своє ти дав мені й ніхто не відбере.

Sonnet 22 in Spanish – by Manuel Mújica Láinez

No creeré en mi vejez, ante el espejo,
mientras la juventud tu edad comparta;
sólo cuando los surcos te señalen
pensaré que la muerte se aproxima.

Si toda la hermosura que te cubre
es el ropaje de mi corazón,
que vive en ti, como en mí vive el tuyo,
¿cómo puedo ser yo mayor que tú?

Por eso, amor, contigo sé prudente,
como soy yo por ti, no por mi mismo;
tu corazón tendré con el cuidado
de la nodriza que al pequeño ampara.

No te ufanes del tuyo, si me hieres,
pues me lo diste para no volverlo.

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light (Dylan Thomas)

I mentioned in a previous post that in the English-language literature the genre of villanelle has acquired the depth it didn’t use to have as a Mediterranean-born dance-song. You could see how W. H. Auden and Oscar Wilde used the form to convey very profound meaning; however, the villanelle Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas reads like a sober yet beautiful illustration to The Return of Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. At the same time the poem bears certain parallels with Shakespeare’s sonnet no. 7 (Lo! in the orient when the gracious light…), in that the lyrical hero appeals to the subject (a monarch, a kind of pater familiae) to leave a successor before his age expires.

Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (listen to Thomas’s recording of the poem).

Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
William Shakespeare, Sonnet no. 7 (read the commentary and a 1609 version of the poem)

1. Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
2. Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
3. Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
4.Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
5. And having climb’d the steep-up heavenly hill,
6. Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
7. Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
8. Attending on his golden pilgrimage:
9. But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
10. Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
11. The eyes, ‘fore duteous, now converted are
12. From his low tract, and look another way:
13. So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon
14. Unlooked on diest unless thou get a son.

Russian translation

Дилан Томас, Не уходи безропотно во тьму

Не уходи безропотно во тьму,
Будь яростней пред ночью всех ночей,
Не дай погаснуть свету своему

Хоть мудрый знает – не осилишь тьму,
Во мгле словами не зажжёшь лучей –
Не уходи безропотно во тьму,

Хоть добрый видит: не сберечь ему
Живую зелень юности своей,
Не дай погаснуть свету своему.

А ты, хватавший солнце налету,
Воспевший свет, узнай к закату дней,
Что не уйдёшь безропотно во тьму!

Суровый видит: смерть идёт к нему
Метеоритным отсветом огней,
Не дай погаснуть свету своему!

Отец, с высот проклятий и скорбей
Благослови всей яростью твоей –
Не уходи безропотно во тьму!
Не дай погаснуть свету своему!

(перевод Василия Бетаки

From Shakespeare to Wagner (via Zizek)

Before the end of this week (before Friday 13th, that is) you have the chance to vote for the 13th member of the Shakespeare Hall of Fame. The names range from Sarah Bernhardt to David Tennant, with the inclusion of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Boris Pasternak. The Russian LiveJournal users (including me) would very much like to see the Nobel Prize winning Russian author Pasternak to be included. However, as I remarked jokingly in my LJ post, if I send the link to my Italian friend, he will certainly choose Virginia Woolf.

And now there is a plenty of time to plan your visit to Leeds on March 10th. You can do this either because of Richard Wagner… or because of Slavoj Žižek. In the talk and on-stage interview, chaired by Professor Derek Scott of the University of Leeds, Prof Žižek is going to delight his listeners with the talk titled “Brunhilde’s act, or, why was it so difficult for Wagner to find a proper ending for his twilight of the gods?” The event is at the Howard Assembly Room, and tickets cost just £3. Read on for more information. Many thanks to Kishore Budha for announcing the event on Facebook.

To finish, a quote from the very end of Maugham’s Theatre, very appropriate, given our different attitudes to theatre, Žižek, Wagner, and, well, even Shakespeare:

A head-waiter came up to her with an ingratiating smile.
‘Everything all right, Miss Lambert?’

‘Lovely. You know, it’s strange how people differ. Mrs Siddons was a rare one for chops; I’m not a bit like her in that; I’m a rare one for steaks’.

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