Six Sonnets by Various Authors

This episode contains sonnets by Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, John Donne, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.  A sonnet is a lyric poem made up of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter, which adheres to a strict rhyming scheme (one of various). Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard are credited with introducing the sonnet to England, while Shakespeare is credited with having perfected it.  The sonnets below appear by the birth order of the authors.

Duration: 00:08:37 (about 8 minutes)
File Size: 8 MB
Download: Six Sonnets by Various Authors – MP3

Recording Copyright © 2009 Nikolle Doolin

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542)

Thomas Wyatt


Farewell, Love, and all thy laws for ever;
Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more:
Senec and Plato call me from thy lore,
To perfect wealth, my wit for to endeavour;
In blind errour when I did persever,
Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore,
Taught me in trifles that I set no store;
But ‘scaped forth thence, since liberty is lever:
Therefore, farewell, go trouble younger hearts,
And in me claim no more authority;
With idle youth go use thy property,
And thereon spend thy many brittle darts:
For, hitherto though I have lost my time,
Me list no longer rotten boughs to clime.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517–1547)

Henry howard


Divers thy death do diversely bemoan:
Some, that in presence of thy livelihed
Lurked, whose breasts envy with hate had swoln,
Yield Caesar‘s tears upon Pompeius‘ head.
Some, that watched with the murderer’s knife,
With eager thirst to drink thy guiltless blood,
Whose practice brake by happy end of life,
With envious tears to hear thy fame so good.
But I, that knew what harboured in that head;
What virtues rare were tempered in that breast;
Honour the place that such a jewel bred,
And kiss the ground whereas the corpse doth rest;
With vapoured eyes: from whence such streams availe,
As Pyramus did on Thisbe‘s breast bewail.

Edmund Spenser (1552–1599)

Edmund Spenser


One day I wrote her name upon the strand,
But came the waves and washed it away:
Agayne I wrote it with a second hand;
But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray.
“Vayne man,” sayd she, “that dost in vaine assay
A mortall thing so to immortalize;
For I my selve shall lyke to this decay,
And eke my name bee wyped out lykewize.”
“Not so,” quod I; “let baser things devize
To dy in dust, but you shall live by fame:
My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the hevens wryte your glorious name.
Where, when as death shall all the world subdew,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

William Shakespeare


When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

John Donne (1572-1631)

John Donne


Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy‘or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Percy Shelley


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter’d visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock’d them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.