Happy Birthday Willy Wobbledagger!

Today, the 23rd April,  is traditionally recognised as William Shakespeare’s birthday. Not many people realise however that he also died on 23 April aged just 52.

Many of Shakespeare’s characters appear to suffer from mental ill health; Hamlet, Romeo and Antonio to name but three. Depression however was not a recognised illness in those days although a diagnosis of “melancholy” was prevalent.

Some of Shakespeare’s sonnets are thought to have been written whilst in a state of  depression; Sonnet 29 amongst them.

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.

Sonnet 29 is the Sonnet which Richard Gere is reading  to Julia Roberts in the film “Pretty Woman” and here is Rufus Wainwright singing Sonnet 29.


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