How appropriate of me to begin an irregular, now-and-again series of reprinted poems from the English language with a sonnet from the Bard himself. I believe we all deserve brief, uplifting breaks from the tawdry madness of Trump’s reign to breathe fresh air and reassure ourselves that beauty still exists in these iron times...and to remind ourselves of the nobler qualities we as a species still harbor.
So I begin the venture with a selection from the greatest poet of our tongue, Number 30 from Shakespeare’s matchless collection of sonnets, a favorite of mine that addresses the human verities of love and death, regret and friendship.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste.
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored, and sorrows end.
*The art above is the most recently discovered of Shakespeare’s few likenesses, and is the subject of some controversy over its authenticity. I selected it for its relative rarity in use, because it was painted while he was alive (1603), and because it most resembles how I imagine how that great literary genius would look.