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.
As quick as you fell ill, quickly you recover;
A quip returned, a memory uncovered.
Saline drip, subcut, a new route discovered.
You slip into the railed bed, slide under covers.
Outside Glasgow Royal – snow – a thin sheet.
Inside your wit, wisdom makes my heart swell –
Bigger than your water-retaining feet.
Without this love, nothing could ever be well.
A gift the heart wrapped early in this life.
The more you give the more you have to cherish.
If I could offer you my veins, I’d gladly use a knife.
At times it seems if you go, I too will perish.
A mould broke made a new mother of you.
Blood, water, sealed with a kiss: all true
from On Shakespeare’s Sonnets: A Poets’ Celebration edited by Hannah Crawforth & Elizabeth Scott-Baumann (Bloomsbury, 2016), © Jackie Kay 2016, used by permission of the author