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.

Hearing Voices

‘Yes, you were, you were’, I laughed, ‘golden children!’

Through all those years of hubris, me taking pride,

As though it were my doing, in that golden,

Blameless childhood, you with no cause to hide

Anything more than boyhood’s guilty pleasures.

But how you hid when the sky split, the voices came,

Each with a face you drew, wild familiars,

Grotesques that only talking to could tame.

Then on their heels crept silences: your childhood,

Mother, father, sister, all held at bay,

All suspect. Illness might be in the blood,

Even how we laugh in our DNA.

Yet how we laughed, there in the sun that spread

Through leaves and seemed to gild what my son said!

from On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration edited by Hannah Crawforth & Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Bloomsbury, 2016), © Mimi Khalvati 2016, used by permission of the author

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