Original Shakespeare followed by imitation.


Sonnet 49

Against that time, if ever that time come,
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
When as thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Called to that audit by advis’d respects;
Against that time when thou shalt strangely pass,
And scarcely greet me with that sun, thine eye,
When love, converted from the thing it was,
Shall reasons find of settled gravity;
Against that time do I ensconce me here,
Within the knowledge of mine own desert,
And this my hand, against my self uprear,
To guard the lawful reasons on thy part:
To leave poor me thou hast the strength of laws,
Since why to love I can allege no cause.


Against that time which every textbook knows
Is consequent to mortal happiness –
Our gathered stones return to be dice throws –
There is a time to build into loss, bliss.
Against that time of permanent damage,
Rending self’s fabric to frayed, fragile bits,
More dispossessed through living than through age,
There is a time to make our misses, hits.
Against that time which finally becomes
One long deep betrayal to which we’re driven
In exile from the universe of home,
There is a time to see in our hell, heaven.
There is a time for you to say you’re mine
And doing so stays still against that time.


Sonnet 107

Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom.
The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured,
And the sad augurs mock their own presage;
Incertainties now crown themselves assured,
And peace proclaims olives of endless age.
Now with the drops of this most balmy time,
My love looks fresh, and Death to me subscribes,
Since, spite of him, I’ll live in this poor rhyme,
While he insults o’er dull and speechless tribes:
And thou in this shalt find thy monument,
When tyrants’ crests and tombs of brass are spent.


My love looks fresh, as every lovers’ does,
For dateless ages, or at least until
The cosy comforts of settling down close
Atom-fired collisions of will to will;
Meantime, the whole world’s business stinks on:
Wars, rumors, famines, earthquakes, dope and plagues,
Some stupid voice erupts with… Negotiations…
Breakthroughs…Arms control…Hope…the latest Trade
And all the irrelevance of speechless tribes
Waving to oblivion with tactless art,
Mindless as modernism. They’ve all connived
At mediocrities and betrayed the heart.
Let them preach peace, their palates packed arsenals;
My job’s to love you, and to make it final.


Sonnet 149

Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake?
Do I not think on thee, when I forgot
Am of my self, all tyrant, for thy sake?
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend,
On whom frown’st thou that I do fawn upon,
Nay, if thou lour’st on me, do I not spend
Revenge upon myself with present moan?
What merit do I in my self respect,
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best doth worship thy defect,
Commanded by the motion of thine eyes?
But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind,
Those that can see thou lov’st, and I am blind.


What more is there to do? I have loved her
And now am shown the door. I have thought hard,
Tried too to be a doer, not moved her,
Have found – endwise – impotent potent words.
I have no more, gutted, of all goodness
There’s nothing left, even poetry’s charm
Sounds as irrelevant as a fly’s buzz;
And like a fly I flit in mindless turns
Vaguely aware light somewhere has its source
I’ll not find. Then, revelation dawns
Fog-like or worse, in fly blackness, because
The worst’s to be shown and yet – oh! – not seen.
These years – long years – I said and saw love’s kind,
And now I know I was and am just blind.


© James Sale 2016
Burnham Gardens, 43 Burnham Drive,
Queens Park, Bournemouth BH8 9EX

James Sale, FRSA is a leading expert on motivation, and the creator and licensor of Motivational Maps worldwide. James has been writing poetry for over 40 years and has seven collections of poems published, including most recently, Inside the Whale, his metaphor for being in hospital and surviving cancer, which afflicted him in 2011. He can be found at www.jamessale.co.uk and contacted at james@motivationalmaps.com. He is the winner of Second Prize in the Society’s 2015 Competition

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3 Responses

  1. Damian Robin

    You have to know the original very well to do a good imitation. I don’t know Shakespeare very well so will have to read the originals a few more times. Then maybe I can give a sensible view on your imitations, James. They read well.
    A new genre? — After, Transliteration, Done in Prose …

  2. james sale

    Thanks Damian. I call them imitations, which they are, but of course they also inspirations from Shakespeare, so in that sense I hope they can be read as stand alones. Don’t you find that a phrase or short expression sometimes resonates in the mind and becomes a germ for a fuller poem? This is so true of Shakespeare. If you take Sonnet 49 I love the phrase the starts the poem: ‘Against that time …’ and it was that that led me into the exploration of what it means for me, now. Hence the repetition on my part.


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