Write a short poem that begins with one line from any Shakespeare play or poem. The poem should be two to four lines in length. Post it in the comments section below under your full name and general area of residence (“Bob Smith, Denver, Colorado”). Two entries allowed per poet.

When: Now until June 15, 2019 midnight EST. Winner Announced June 22, 2019.

Who: Anyone in the world, any age or background, may participate. From within the Society, anyone, including Advisory Board Members, not involved in judging the contest may participate. (If you are outside the United States, you will have to have a PayPal account or a bank that accepts U.S. checks to receive the prize money if you win.)

Prize: $100

Judge: Advisory Board Members who choose to participate

Entry Fee: None

Examples: Our first example and the idea for this contest comes from Joe Tessitore of New York City, who came up with this contest. Thank you, Joe!


In the Toilet

Brevity is the soul of wit,
yet on my brains I choose to sit,
long-winded, (here a pun, methinks!).
Small wonder, then, such humor stinks!



Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.”

73 Responses

  1. T.M. Moore, Vermont

    Your Pleasure My Delight

    (Sonnet 65)

    That in black ink my love may still shine bright,
    I keep revising, till I get it right.
    Then, meekly, I my verse to you recite:
    Your pleasure brings me no end of delight.

  2. T. M. Moore, Vermont

    For Susie, My Editor

    The lady doth protest too much, methinks:
    “Fix this, change that, delete this line entire.”
    My pride is wounded, and my spirit sinks,
    until I read, “Ah, this part lights my fire!”

    • Bolaji S. Ramos

      Bolaji S. Ramos, Lagos (Nigeria)

      My Sleeping Mistress

      My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,
      Sealed by Morpheus, and now wait I must
      For this dreadful dusk to return her fun,
      That again we may row our boat of lust.

  3. Dusty Grein, Oregon

    Time to Get a Dog

    What light through yonder window breaks,
    still hours yet, ’til day begins?
    I spring from bed, now wide awake,
    and catch my daughter, sneaking in!

  4. Peter Hartley

    To be or not to be that? is the question.
    The answer depends on what ‘that’ is.
    If that’s an improper suggestion
    I’m ever so pleased that it’s his.

    • Peter Hartley

      To be or not? To be ‘that’ is the question,
      Not to be or not, but to be that,
      To be sick and to have indigestion,
      I’d rather be this than have that.

  5. James A. Tweedie

    As an Advisory Board Member I’m probably disqualified, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to submit something, anyway. From Richard III, V. IV:

    “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”
    Th’embattled, desperate King Richard said.
    A nearby steed replied, “I’ll help, of course!”
    And there he stood, the famous Mr. Ed!

  6. James A. Tweedie

    Richard III, V. III

    “Call up Lord Stanley, bid him bring his power.”
    The playoffs are pro hockey’s finest hour.
    Which team will win his cup? Which three will lose?
    The Hurricanes, the Bruins, Sharks or Blues?

    • Peter Hartley

      (As my third submission this one doesn’t count and it doesn’t conform with the instructions anyway:)

      Thrfr snce brvty’s the sl of wt
      I’ll kp ths shrt ‘nd swt

  7. Rajendra Singh Baisthakur

    Brevity is the soul of wit
    Pity many don’t have it.

  8. Kim Cherub

    Brevity is the soul of wit,
    Yet free verse is so long-winded!
    Perhaps it should be cut back a bit,
    Or better yet, rescinded.

  9. Mae Leslie

    Poems written by Mae Leslie, Houston, TX

    Listen Silently

    Give every man thy ear, but not thy voice.
    (That is, if you have a choice.)
    When a situation might turn violent,
    is it best to stay silent?

    Stage Fright

    All the world’s a stage;
    we’re actors without a wage.
    We miss cues and bray,
    some lines we can’t bear to say.

  10. Kim Cherub

    “Why am I a fool?”
    The liberal asked his tool.
    “Because you too grow erect
    Whenever your lusts rise, unchecked!”

  11. Alexander Ream

    Now is the winter of our discontent,
    And I don’t like yours; away from my tent,
    For mine is more pure, mine’s more unique:
    Immune to a cure, abstruse and oblique.

    Gloucester, from Richard III

  12. Joe Tessitore, NYC

    True Love

    What light through yonder window breaks?
    From deepest sleep, true love awakes.
    The coldest hour is put to flight
    and vanquished is the darkest night.

  13. Alex Andy Phuong

    Alex Andy Phuong, Alhambra, CA

    “Signifying Nothing”
    Existentialism is like pessimism
    And nihilism is like cynicism
    Be more like Pollyanna instead of Macbeth
    And enjoy life until the very last breath

    “All That Glitters is Not Gold”
    Gold might be as yellow as the sun
    But being wealthy is not always fun
    Treasure food and eat instead
    Or else those who do not eat will be surely dead

      • Alex Andy Phuong

        Hi Esther

        “Signifying Nothing” comes from a soliloquy in Macbeth in which Macbeth says that life is meaningless in Act V of the play.

        “All that glitters is not gold” comes from a line found in The Merchant of Venice.

        Thank you for asking!

        Best wishes,
        Alex Phuong

      • Alex Andy Phuong

        Hi Esther,

        I honestly think that I misunderstood the instructions for this contest.

        The titles of my poems, “Signifying Nothing” and “All That Glitters is Not Gold” both come from Shakespeare.

        The lines that follow (4 lines each) are my own original writing.

        I apologize if I entered this competition incorrectly.

        Thank you!

        Alex Andy Phuong

  14. Rohini

    “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow”
    I shall return the money that I borrow
    This, for aye, has been the charlatan’s old song
    For what he takes, he’ll not return for long.

  15. David Watt

    David Watt, Canberra, Australia

    Love and Listen

    Love alters not with his brief hour and weeks,
    And works for introverts, as well as geeks,
    Who may not say a lot … but when they do!
    Each word of passion resonates as true.

  16. Susan J Bryant, Texas Gulf Coast

    Play On

    If music be the food of love,
    go blow scorned horn at flirtle dove
    and blast a brassy raspberry feast
    to hex the dish of rakish beast.

  17. Mike Bryant, Texas Gulf Coast


    Listen to many, speak to a few,
    Grok all around you, see only one,
    Seek ye the reason, glistening pure,
    The light in your heaven, She is your Sun.

  18. Michael Allard

    A Better Time for Camping

    Now is the Winter of our Discontent,
    Not the time to set up your tent.
    If you want to enjoy a pleasant breeze,
    As you settle yourself beneath the trees,
    The summery sun of York you’ll find
    Is much more settling to the mind.

  19. Susan J Bryant


    OUT, damn Spot! OUT, I say!
    Pee on parquet – thou shalt pay!

  20. Michael Allard

    Rap Master Brutus

    I came to bury Caesar, not to praise him
    I’m gonna fiddle and faddle and then I’ll daze him
    He’ll be lost in my rhymes and when I’m through
    He’s gonna look around and say ‘Et tu?’

  21. Mike Bryant

    Global Warming?

    Now is the winter of our discontent,
    Where is the heat? Methinks ‘tis spent!

  22. Jarek

    Jarek Zawadzki, Gliwce, Poland

    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long there’s nothing you can get for free.

    • Frank De Canio

      Sorry, I wasn’t writing a poem beginning with a Shakespeare line. I thought I was commenting on the poem written by Joe Tessitore of New York City,

  23. Joe Falocco - Texas

    He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
    Because the sledded Polacks were not nice.
    He cut off their heads.
    And they fell of their sleds.
    “Should have quite while ahead”’s my advice.

  24. Dan Blackston, Illinois.

    In purity of manhood stand upright
    to defend flag, country, and friends.
    In pride of motherhood give love and light
    to our children on whom the future depends.

  25. Dan Blackston, Illinois.

    We are such stuff as dreams are made on, rounded with a little sleep,
    and yet every day I have a schedule and a job to keep!

  26. Nancy Weber

    When I consider everything that grows
    Jack’s stalk apposes Pinocchio’s nose.

  27. Thomas Switzer

    “Now, gods stand up for bastards!”/
    Make hearts -weak and shattered-
    Strong and mended. Let us rise/
    Above our curs’ed lives… /
    Dust off the shadow of the night,/
    And bathe us in the purest light!

  28. Sathyanarayana M.V. S

    The chaste palate of love, O’ Cupid, know
    Thee not…in breathless moans, true joy is gone!
    O’ angel of love, tune thy sweet cello…
    If music be the feed of love, play on!

  29. Martin Rizley

    “Our little life is rounded with a sleep,”
    Framed by enigmas fathomlessly deep,
    Like, “Why do socks from washers disappear?”
    Or, “Why would folks vote Democrat next year?”
    While Hindus ponder how atman is Brahma,
    I ask how people chose that man Obama!

  30. Tony Leo Damigo, Crestview, Florida

    Once more unto the breach.
    Of mice and men who boast and preach,
    and promise lies beyond their reach.
    A foul against free speech!

    Go thou, and fill another room in hell,
    reserved for politicians there to dwell.
    Those who’s nature, like sick pigs, spew their swill.
    And spread their lies to news-room spies, to spill.

  31. Martin Rizley

    2B or not 2B, that is the question
    The driver faced upon his wife´s suggestion
    That in the mall´s garage, he´d lost his way,
    and needed to ascend to level “A.”

    • Monty

      Quality, Martin.
      That’d get my vote just for sheer innovation and imagination.

  32. Monty

    Monty Phillips . . France.

    Not age, but sorrow, over me hath power.
    What sorrow? That this new age seems to’ve decreed
    That Verse be ‘free’; and will henceforth endower
    Future ages with notions that Verse be ‘freed’.

  33. Nancy Weber

    He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
    May have his hashtag settled by MeToo.

  34. David Watt

    David Watt, Canberra, Australia

    Bewitching Bread

    “The wheel is come full circle: I am here.”
    Said Hansel, lacking any trace of fear.
    “The bread was just too good to waste for crumbs;
    We’ll enter the first candy house which comes.”

  35. Keltie-Kewan Young

    Keltie-Kewan Young, Auckland, New Zealand

    “In the sea of green”
    In the sea of green a Little tree sprouts
    Breath of air flowing, surviving and flourishing
    The course of true love never did run smooth
    A quiet snaps in the sea of green.

    “The symphony”
    The harsh sun above can only speckle through the wall of leaves
    For One touch of nature makes the whole world kin
    While Trees sway through notes of wilted leaves fall like music
    A symphony we may never halt.

  36. Keltie-Kewan Young

    Keltie-Kewan Young, Auckland, New Zealand

    “In the sea of green”
    In the sea of green a Little tree sprouts
    Breath of air flowing, surviving yet perishing
    For “The course of true love never did run smooth”
    A quiet snaps in the sea of green.

    “The symphony”
    The harsh sun above can only speckle through the wall of leaves
    Yet only “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”
    While Trees sway through notes of wilted leaves fall like music
    A symphony we may never halt.

  37. Keltie-Kewan Young

    Keltie-Kewan Young, Auckland, New Zealand

    “In the sea of green”
    In the sea of green a Small tree sprouts
    A Breath of air flowing, surviving yet perishing
    For “The course of true love never did run smooth”
    A quiet branch snaps in the sea of green.

    “The symphony”
    The harsh sun above can only speckle through the wall of leaves
    Yet only “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”
    While Trees sway through notes of wilted leaves fall like music
    A symphony we may never halt.

  38. Ben Berg

    Burnaby, BC, Canada

    “A Trove, by any Other Name”

    My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
    The world’s treasure thou art, in time, for me
    To find, through seven tides, through gale and breeze —
    My love, an ‘X’ shalt I mark down for thee.

  39. Sheila Phalon

    She is spherical like a globe
    And empirical and bold
    Shall truth be told
    She is gold

    • Nancy Weber

      Sweet economy in its retort to Dromio’s
      anti-Irish (inter alia) sentiment.

  40. Avery Miller

    By Avery Miller, USA

    Who wakes me from my flowery bed
    With funny face and downy head?
    No changeling of a fairy curse,
    But my dear baby come to nurse.

  41. Christina Lang

    Christina Lang, Temecula, California

    For My Love

    Love is a spirit all compact of fire.
    Tell me, my love, what is thy desire?
    For mine is to give all that you ask,
    No request too grand or too great a task.

  42. Beatriz Martos

    to be or not to be?, that is the question…
    i fall into disgrace not knowing my destiny or fate
    will the arrow pierce my open heart or will i soar above
    this charred and chastened plight
    tis better not to think too deep and wait upon god’s grace I reap

  43. Rob Crisell

    Rob Crisell, Temecula, CA

    Past All Surgery

    Those are pearls that were his eyes;
    His knees, of pure titanium;
    Of steel do his hips comprise;
    But clay fills up his cranium.

    To the Invisible Spirit of Wine

    But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
    It is the vengeful morn which flings bright bolts,
    Enpiercing bloodshot eyes. My head – it aches!
    Once more the devil wine ‘gainst me revolts.

  44. Gregory Spicer

    Evaporates with the combustion of cannabis.

  45. J. Ryder

    Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
    Thy breath more sweet than the summer’s breeze is,
    The flow’rs, of summer to lilac blooms sway
    Whilst all the world’s lips wish to thy rose kiss.

  46. J. Ryder

    Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
    So too dost my blood like an ocean surge,
    My heart,–(happy tide), twice daily doth soar
    Sweet thought when eyes thirsty on beauty splurge.

  47. K. Wise


    This wins him, liver and all.
    Takes him to the bathroom stall.
    His pants unzipped, his colors fly.
    Being drunk is better than dry.

  48. K. Wise


    O, full of scorpions is my mind!
    Their pincers on my cerebellar side.
    They cannot let my thalamus go.
    Neural stimulation evermore.

  49. Monty

    Monty Phillips . . . France

    To make the weeper laugh, the laugher weep . .
    Would seem, at first, a hopeless thing to try.
    But it can be achieved in just one sweep;
    A tragicomedy to wet the eye.

  50. Kathleen Farrell


    “For beauty lives with kindness”
    Hear ye now! Let praises ring
    for magic in the early spring,
    and, dwell again with gentleness.

  51. Sally Cook

    Sally Cook — Western New York

    Joan’s Dilemma

    While greasy Joan doth keel the pot,
    I doubt she wants to do a lot
    Of keeling to a boiling pot
    For, if too cold, who’ll eat a lot?

  52. Sally Cook

    Sally Cook – Western New York

    New Politics

    O brave new world, that has such people in’t! —
    Who shout and scream, have tantrums, and then spin’t —
    Think this the way to change that crucial minute.
    Just can’t get over that they didn’t win’t,

  53. Theresa Rodriguez

    Tomorrow? and tomorrow? and tomorrow?
    This worry-fretting fear, when will it end?
    Oh, what will happen to me? Joy, or sorrow?
    Anxiety has never been my friend!

  54. Bruce Wren

    Shakespeare Overweight

    Though Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
    Of the ranged empire fall,
    This bulge upon my belt, in its demarche
    Proves an impregnable wall.

    • Bruce E. Wren

      A Shakespearean Problem Solved

      When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
      I turn for solace to a sweet girl’s sighs.

      Bruce Wren, Chicago, Illinois


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