The British Council has supported these recordings as part of the Shakespeare Lives in 2016 programme celebrating the work of William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death.

Drowned Man

See how they sleep first he turns

away and then she turns

after him or now she turns

her back and he follows


rolled by an imperative

deeper than sleep                               

he rolls over like a wave                                             

that turns itself over                                                                                                               

sleepily with the sea’s deep               

breathing with its rhythm                                           

pulsing far out from land pulsing far                         

down in the dark                                


where creatures not yet formed are forming

where like half made beasts                                                                           

his dreams swim among hers where

she hears his breathing far


above her nearer to the light

nearer to the white-topped

waves the white-peaked sheets his arm

thrown across her now


as she floats upward drawing him

out of deep tides crossing                  

their legs once more and morning lies

motionless to the horizon.                               

Fiona Sampson in the Poetry Store

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