Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
an admirable concern to keep lines open to writing in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America.
Seamus Heaney

Shakespeare's Sonnets

Philip Terry

Shakespeare's Sonnets
10% off eBook (EPUB)
10% off Paperback
Categories: 16th Century, 21st Century, British, Translation
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
eBook (EPUB) Needs ADE!
(Pub. Aug 2011)
£9.95 £8.96
Paperback (72 pages)
(Pub. Sep 2010)
£9.95 £8.96
To use the EPUB version, you will need to have Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) installed on your device. You can find out more at Please do not purchase this version if you do not have and are not prepared to install, Adobe Digital Editions.
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Reviews
  • Your fibreglass doth th'impression fill
    which vulgar vandals stamped upon my bonnet;
    What care I for smart cars,
    The hamster is happy in my carburettor.
    You are my Silverstone,
    My fruitful Bernie,
    None else to me, nor I to none alive,
    Can take your place on the starting grid.
                                      from Sonnet 112
    (Your love and pity doth th'impression fill)
    Inspired by the flotsam of contemporary culture, Philip Terry transforms Shakespeare's sonnet sequence into a celebration of language unleashed. The results are as disrespectful and anarchic as a cartoon - and as assured in their control of line. Philip Terry, an acclaimed translator of the poetry of Raymond Queneau, plays language games by the rules of Oulipo in his creation of a Shakespearean chimera, the hybrid that takes on a life of its own.

    Cover Image © copyright Grant Shipcott

    1 (‘From fairest creatures we desire increase’)
    2 (‘When forty winters shall besiege thy brow’)
    3 (‘Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest’)
    4 (‘Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend’)
    5 (‘Those hours that with gentle work did frame’)
    6 (‘Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface’)
    7 (‘Lo, in the orient when the gracious light’)
    9 (‘Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye’)
    13 (‘O that you were yourself! But, love, you are’)
    14 (‘Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck’)
    15 (‘When I consider every thing that grows’)
    17 (‘Who will believe my verse in time to come’)
    18 (‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’)
    20 (‘A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted’)
    22 (‘My glass shall not persuade me I am old’)
    23 (‘As an unperfect actor on the stage’)
    24 (‘Mine eye hath played the painter, and hath steeled’)
    25 (‘Let those who are in favour with their stars’)
    26 (‘Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage’)
    27 (‘Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed’)
    28 (‘How can I then return in happy plight’)
    30 (‘When to the sessions of sweet silent thought’)
    32 (‘If thou survive my well-contented day’)
    33 (‘Full many a glorious morning have I seen’)
    34 (‘Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day’)
    36 (‘Let me confess that we two must be twain’)
    37 (‘As a decrepit father takes delight’)
    38 (‘How can my muse want subject to invent’)
    39 (‘O, how thy worth with manners may I sing’)
    40 (‘Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all’)
    41 (‘Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits’)
    42 (‘That thou hast her, it is not all my grief’)
    44 (‘If the dull substance of my flesh were thought’)
    45 (‘The other two, slight air and purging fire’)
    46 (‘Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war’)
    48 (‘How careful was I when I took my way’)
    49 (‘Against that time – if ever that time come –’)
    50 (‘How heavy do I journey on the way’)
    51 (‘Thus can my love excuse the slow offence’)
    53 (‘What is your substance, whereof are you made’)
    54 (‘O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem’)
    55 (‘Not marble nor the gilded monuments’)
    56 (‘Sweet love, renew thy force. Be it not said’)
    57 (‘Being your slave, what should I do but tend’)
    59 (‘If there be nothing new, but that which is’)
    60 (‘Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore’)
    61 (‘Is it thy will thy image should keep open’)
    62 (‘Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye’)
    63 (‘Against my love shall be as I am now’)
    64 (‘When I have seen by time’s fell hand defaced’)
    65 (‘Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea’)
    66 (‘Tired with all these, for restful death I cry’)
    67 (‘Ah, wherefore with infection should he live’)
    68 (‘Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn’)
    69 (‘Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view’)
    71 (‘No longer mourn for me when I am dead’)
    72 (‘O, lest the world should task you to recite’)
    74 (‘But be contented when that fell arrest’)
    75 (‘So are you to my thoughts as food to life’)
    77 (‘Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear’)
    78 (‘So oft have I invoked thee for my muse’)
    79 (‘Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid’)
    80 (‘O, how I faint when I of you do write’)
    81 (‘Or I shall live your epitaph to make’)
    82 (‘I grant thou wert not married to my muse’)
    83 (‘I never saw that you did painting need’)
    84 (‘Who is it that says most which can say more’)
    85 (‘My tongue-tied muse in manners holds her still’)
    86 (‘Was it the proud full sail of his great verse’)
    87 (‘Farewell – thou art too dear for my possessing’)
    88 (‘When thou shalt be disposed to set me light’)
    89 (‘Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault’)
    90 (‘Then hate me when thou wilt, if ever, now’)
    91 (‘Some glory in their birth, some in their skill’)
    92 (‘But do thy worst to steal thyself away’)
    94 (‘They that have power to hurt and will do none’)
    95 (‘How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame’)
    96 (‘Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness’)
    97 (‘How like a winter hath my absence been’)
    98 (‘From you have I been absent in the spring’)
    99 (‘The forward violet thus did I chide’)
    100 (‘Where art thou, muse, that thou forget’st so long’)
    101 (‘O truant muse, what shall be thy amends’)
    102 (‘My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming’)
    103 (‘Alack, what poverty my muse brings forth’)
    106 (‘When in the chronicle of wasted time’)
    107 (‘Not mine own fears nor the prophetic soul’)
    108 (‘What’s in the brain that ink may character’)
    109 (‘O never say that I was false of heart’)
    110 (‘Alas, ’tis true, I have gone here and there’)
    112 (‘Your love and pity doth th’impression fill’)
    113 (‘Since I left you mine eye is in my mind’)
    115 (‘Those lines that I before have writ do lie’)
    116 (‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds’)
    117 (‘Accuse me thus: that I have scanted all’)
    120 (‘That you were once unkind befriends me now’)
    121 (‘’Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed’)
    122 (‘Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain’)
    123 (‘No, time, thou shalt not boast that I do change!’)
    124 (‘If my dear love were but the child of state’)
    125 (‘Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy’)
    126 (‘O thou my lovely boy, who in thy power’)
    127 (‘In the old age black was not counted fair’)
    128 (‘How oft, when thou, my music, music play’s’)
    129 (‘Th’expense of spirit in a waste of shame’)
    130 (‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun’)
    131 (‘Thou art as tyrannous so as thou art’)
    132 (‘Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me –’)
    133 (‘Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan’)
    134 (‘So, now I have confessed that he is thine’)
    135 (‘Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will’)
    136 (‘If thy soul check thee that I come so near’)
    137 (‘Thou blind fool love, what dost thou to mine eyes’)
    139 (‘O, call not me to justify the wrong’)
    140 (‘Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press’)
    141 (‘In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes’)
    142 (‘Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate’)
    143 (‘Lo, as a care-full housewife runs to catch’)
    144 (‘Two loves I have, of comfort and despair’)
    145 (‘Those lips that love’s own hand did make’)
    146 (‘Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth’)
    147 (‘My love is as a fever, longing still’)
    148 (‘O me, what eyes hath love put in my head’)
    149 (‘Canst thou, O cruel, say I love thee not’)
    150 (‘O, from what power hast thou this powerful might’)
    151 (‘Love is too young to know what conscience is’)
    152 (‘In loving thee thou know’st I am foresworn’)
    153 (‘Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep’)
    154 (‘The little love-god lying once asleep’)

    Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is a poet, translator, and a writer of fiction. He has translated the work of Georges Perec, Michèle Métail and Raymond Queneau, and is the author of the novel tapestry, shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize. His poetry and experimental translations include Oulipoems, Dante’s ... read more
    'The English language is shape-shifting, and Philip Terry has turned onto its multiple modern metamorphoses to produce a witty, subtle and unprecedented fugue with variations. Shakespearean themes of love, regret, loss, and misanthropy gleam through a sumptuous ventriloquising of varied idiolects taken from the new media and the global infotainment traffic, seemingly infinite permutations of structure and syntax show a delighted agility and command of intervention. I am admiring, diverted, baffled, and moved by this original, contemporary re-engagement with the Sonnets'
    Marina Warner 
    Praise for Philip Terry  'The book is never crushed by the neatness of any systematic theory... The Lascaux Notebooks becomes an act of resistance and a testament to the value of speculative modes of enquiry. It represents a convincing attempt to demonstrate that if (when) poetry didn't exist, it would need to have been invented.'
    Richard Beard, The TLS
     'The hundreds of poems that constitute The Lascaux Notebooks make for fascinating reading... Each draft of a poem shows how the deeper meanings and nuances of language can be fleshed out with vivid detail if the translator explores the poem with persistence and imagination.'
    John Bradley, Rain Taxi

    'This is a poetry oddly out of time, neither quite modern nor entirely ancient, yet inextricably entwining both epochs...the sensation of reading poetry that may predate better mapped, more recent cultures is delicious. This book celebrates the idea that, even when stuck in a French villa with the Gestapo combing the countryside outside, it might be worth the effort to attempt to reach back through the millennia and talk to a people we can never really know.' 

    Simon Coppock, Minerva 

    'A superb and invigorating collection, breaking ground to discover the figure of our dream of lyric's song in all its lavish beauty, primitivist rhetoric and longing for ancient home in the language of the I's eye seeing itself to abstraction.'

    Adam Piette, Blackbox Manifold


    'What emerges is remarkable, a generative Ice Age mythology, with its own creation stories, hero narratives, a war between black bulls and red horses (a Lascaux cave- painting come to life)...magnificent, mischievous book'

    John Clegg, Modern Poetry in Translation

    'Champerret conjures up the day-to-day activities of the hunter-gatherers - cooking, scouting, trapping, making huts and tents, sewing - and, of course, their sacred rituals, dances and the entry into the dark, the underworld, the otherworld of the caves. The cumulative effect of the poems is slowly to build an atmosphere that evokes both the strangeness and the familiarity of the Palaeolithic world'

    Hilry Davies, Literary Review

    'The book presents a plausible, imagistic recreation of prehistoric living, its quieter moments and dangers, especially when bison are roaming'

    Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian

    'Exhilarating and thought-provoking... It will, I am sure, become an influential and seminal book, one which will illuminate the previously dark and shadow-filled caves of formative language.'

    Rupert Loydell, Tears in the Fence

    'Sparse by design, this poetry is a strong reminder of the power of words when allied to our imagination, experience and emotions.'
    Prize Judges, New Angle Prize for East Anglian Literature
     '[Philip Terry's Inferno] follows Dante's narrative freely but carefully, moving constantly between colloquial and standard, rhythmically lively and effectively drawing the reader into the story.'
    Peter Riley, The Fortnightly Review
     'Philip Terry treats the tablets like elements of code to be cracked open for contemporary eyes and ears. [His] version is original and powerful; he does not try to mend the fragments into a legible whole, but remembers the poem's shattered state.'
    Marina Warner
    'It is brilliant... the pattern and rhythm very forceful and the lingo just stunning.'
    Marina Warner 
    'The lineation speeds along at a nice articulated pace, the Dantesque pitch is right and propulsive, the cast of villains is energising, the balance between language and lingo, the allusive and the obscene just right... Berrigan the perfect shambling guide...'
    Seamus Heaney
      'Though Terry's 'I' is all but absent, his eye is keen throughout, seizing on significant details of his wanderings around estuaries, around the old Berlin Wall, and finally along the digressive paths followed by W. G. Sebald through Suffolk in The Rings of Saturn. En route, Terry's precise [...] selection of language -- sampled from the vocabularies of biology, geography and history, among other disciplines -- offer hints and glimpses and conjectures about the ways in which these three modern landscapes have been shaped by their past and present inhabitants and vice versa. There is no overt editorialising, but rather a pervasive air of pensiveness that invites many re readings. These are poems of high ambition and integrity, and there is nothing else in the English language quite like them.'
    Kevin Jackson
     'These surprising and intriguing poems offer new ways of seeing overlooked places; of reading landscapes too often dismissed as illegible. Tonally adventurous, formally radical, sometimes witty, sometimes melancholically beautiful, they stand at a convergence of nature writing and experimental poetics.'
    Robert Macfarlane
You might also be interested in:
Cover of Nuncle Music
Nuncle Music Gareth Reeves
Cover of Sonnets of Michelangelo
Sonnets of Michelangelo Michelangelo,
Edited by Michael Ayrton,
Translated by Elizabeth Jennings
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog From Base Materials: Jenny Lewis read more Goddamned Selected Poems: Stanley Moss read more Diary of an Invasion: Oksana Maksymchuk read more The Strongbox: Sasha Dugdale read more Not a Moment Too Soon: Frank Kuppner read more Coco Island: Christine Roseeta Walker read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2024 Carcanet Press Ltd