It is National Poetry Day here in the UK, and though it is presumably not National Poetry Day in many of the nations from which CT contributors and readers come, I’m not going to let that stop me. Nick Barlow is assembling a list of participating blogs and among them is “Backword” Dave Weeden who opines that 130 is the greatest of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. He may be right, but my favourite—especially in Britten’s setting in his Nocturne—is 43. Here it is:
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form, form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made,
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.