With May fast approaching and with Shakespeare’s recent revival in the form of the 400th anniversary of his passing, I thought I’d make one tribute to his verse and will complete my poetry offerings for this month. Just for the record, Shakespeare most likely died on his birthday because he was baptized on April 26th of 1564. In the painting he is about 21 years of age. The following sonnet was written by the Stratford bard and also happens to be one of my favorite poems. – The Castle Lady
As it fell upon a day,
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
With a grove of myrtles made,
Beasts did leap, and birds did sing,
Trees did grow, and plants did spring:
Everything did banish moan,
Save the nightingale alone:
She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
Lean’d her breast up-till a thorn,
And there sung the dolefull’st ditty
That to hear it was great pity:
Fie, Fie, Fie, now would she cry,
Teru, Teru, by and by:
That to hear her so complain,
Scarce I could from tears refrain:
For her griefs so lively shown,
Made me think upon mine own.
Ah thought I, thou mourn’st in vain;
None take pity on thy pain:
Senseless trees, they cannot hear thee;
Ruthless bears, they will not cheer thee.
King Pandion, he is dead:
All thy friends are lapp’d in lead:
All thy fellow-birds do sing,
Careless of thy sorrowing.
Even so poor bird, like thee,
None alive will pity me.
Whilst as fickle fortune smil’d
Thou and I were both beguil’d.
Everyone that flatters thee
Is no friend in misery.
Words are easy like the wind;
Faithful friends are hard to find.
Every man will be thy friend,
Whilst thou hast where with to spend;
But if store of crowns be scant
No man will supply thy want.
If that one be prodigal,
Bountiful they will him call:
And with such-like flattering
‘Pity but he were a king.’
If he be addict to vice,
Quickly him they will entice;
If to women he be bent,
They have him at commandement;
But if fortune once do frown,
Then farewell his great renown:
They that fawn’d on him before,
Use his company no more.
He that is thy friend indeed,
He will help thee in thy need:
If thou sorrow, he will weep;
If thou wake, he cannot sleep:
Thus of every grief in heart
He with thee doth bear a part.
These are certain signs to know
Faithful friend from flattering foe.