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.


Pull between earth and moon, or chemistry,

carries the swallow home from Africa

to perch again on his remembered tree,

the weeping birch by the pond. A cold star

will guide his mate home in a week, perhaps,

to the old nest in the barn, remade, mould

of spittle and pond-sludge snug in its cusp

as the new year in the mud-cup of the old.

Loss broke the swan on the river when winter

stole his mate when he wasn’t looking. Believing,

he waited, rebuilt the nest, all summer

holding their stretch of river, raging, grieving.

So would I wait for you, were we put apart.

Mind, magnetism, hunger of the heart.

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

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