Wainwright sings Sonnet 29

Professor Ricks lectured last week to the students of CC201 on the sonnets of William Shakespeare. Since he did not have time enough in the short span of the lecture period to grant the students a sung performance of any of the poems, here is a popular American singer Rufus Wainwright with his own musical interpretation of Sonnet 29 (part of the “fair youth” sequence). The text of the sonnet appears below.

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,
Featured 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.

(Video: “Shakespeares Sonette” by Robert Wilson and Rufus Wainwright at the Berliner Ensemble, 2009)


Core students and alumni are encouraged at any time to record and upload their own performances of Shakespeare’s sonnets or other Core works. If you do not have access to recording equipment, contact the Core office staff and we’ll arrange a time for you to borrow one of our cameras.

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