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Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’ d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee—and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

You can hear Simon Callow reading all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets on this audiobook recorded in 1996:


You can also read about how a sonnet is made in Alfred Corn’s enjoyable, The Poem’s Heartbeat, A Manual of Prosody, published by Copper Canyon Press. Here is a scan of page 41, which is about the famous tenth line in Sonnet 29, Like to the lark at break of day arising. Enjoy.

A link to Copper Canyon Press:


A link to The Poem’s Heartbeat:


  1. oh, I was inclined to think you were the reader and disappointed to find, not. You have great diction, timbre, register . . . .

  2. Jacob Burckhardt

    To me the Simon Callow sounds like an Actor-with-a-capital-A, bombastic with none of the moodiness and sweetness of the poem. I made some recordings of Edwin Debby reading his sonnets, and one thing I noticed was that he seemed to be avoiding the written line breaks, and instead trying to follow the thoughts, even if they began in the middle of one line and ended in another.
    Is this right? Am I missing something?

    • No, you are not missing anything. I wish I had Edwin Denby reading these. I was planning on doing it myself, but anyway, Simon Callow was available. Eventually, one day. I will probably be doing them. Until, I am afraid, the actor Simon Callow.

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