Shakespeare’s Sonnet #2, Read by David Hurley


When forty winters shall beseige thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now
Will be a totter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d, where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame, and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer “This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,”
Proving his beauty by succession thine.
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Sonnet2 by DavidHurley

I came to something of an emotional halt the first time I read this sonnet out loud in preparation for the podcast. I had expected to reach my 40th birthday in all the rude glory of the bachelor’s estate but let us say that both death and life happened while I was busy with other plans. That was nearly ten years ago now, so I began reading the sonnet from the perspective of one who is looking back, with “deep sunken eyes” and a furrowed brow upon his first 40 years. But the lines that really brought my reading to a halt were,

How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer “This fair child of mine…

I am sure I would not be the first father to notice that the advent of a child and the easy propensity to lacrimosity arrive in tandem.

There is a passage in the King James Version of the Bible, in the book of Genesis, chapter 22, verse 8 that I have never yet managed to get past unscathed. Isaac has asked his father, Abraham, where the lamb is for the burnt offering,

And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

There may be no other connection between these two passages than my tears, tears for what some have not been given, and tears for what others fear to lose. Another point of separation to note is between the directness of attribution in the Genesis passage,

And Abraham said…

in comparison to the indirect and imaginary attribution of Shakespeare’s,

If thou couldst answer…


The Sonnets (The New Cambridge Shakespeare)The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (Belknap)