Sonnet 29 Redux For the 21st Century

When I’m depressed and feeling crappy

And I’ve been unfriended by those who know me

If there was a god I’d pray to him or her

But since there isn’t I wallow in my despair

I dream of winning the lottery

Becoming a one percenter chased by paparazzi

A superstar walking life’s red carpet

Receiving a Nobel Prize for brilliance

But of course I’m not, I’m nowhere near

My self-loathing sets me spinning into misery

When by lucky chance I think of you

And like a tweet gone viral in a flash

I shake away the blues to sing your tune

Since your sweet love is all I need instead of worthless money

David Trudel  ©  2012

My poem was inspired, in part, by this masterful reinterpretation of Shakepeare’s 29th sonnet:

When times are hard and old friends fall away

And all alone I lose my hope and pluck,

Doubting if God can hear me when I pray,

And brood upon myself and curse my luck,

Envying some stranger for their handsome face,

Their wit, their wealth, their chances or their friends,

Desiring this one’s brains and that one’s place,

And vexed with all I have that makes amends,

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, –

By chance I think of you; and then my mind,

Like music from deep sullen murmurs rising

To peals and raptures, leaves the earth behind:

For if you care for me, what need I care

To own the world or be a millionaire?

George Santayana

The New Republic, 1915

The original, and still champion, version goes like this:
Sonnet XXIX: When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

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2 Comments

Filed under Poetry

2 responses to “Sonnet 29 Redux For the 21st Century

  1. lucewriter

    I knew Shakespeare wasn’t a one and only. Haha, great job.

    • Thanks – I always liked Sonnet 29 and then some years ago stumbled across Santayana’s rewrite from 1915. There is a local spoken word session coming up focusing on deceased poets and it was suggested that some kind of a mash up might work. I’ll be presenting all three: the original by WS, Santayana’s When Times Are Hard, and then this one.

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