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Shakespeare's Sonnet-Translation to modern English

  1. karthu profile image60
    karthuposted 8 years ago

    Shakespeare has written many sonnets and you know it is hard to get what he meant.
    Here is the translation of his sonnets into modern english which anyone can understand...

    1. pink lingerie profile image61
      pink lingerieposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      whatever language it is, it's still same old boring sonnets

      1. Daniel Carter profile image90
        Daniel Carterposted 7 years ago in reply to this

        Yer jist kiddin' me rite sweetie?

  2. karthu profile image60
    karthuposted 8 years ago

    Shakespeare's Sonnet 1: From Fairest Creatures We Desire Increase

    From fairest creatures we desire increase,
    That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
    But as the riper should by time decrease,
    His tender heir mught bear his memeory:
    But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
    Feed'st thy light'st flame with self-substantial fuel,
    Making a famine where abundance lies,
    Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
    Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
    And only herald to the gaudy spring,
    Within thine own bud buriest thy content
    And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
    Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
    To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.

    Sonnet 1: Translation to modern English


    We want all beautiful creatures to reproduce themselves so that beauty’s flower will not die out; but as an old man dies in time, he leaves a young heir to carry on his memory. But you, concerned only with your own beautiful eyes, feed the bright light of life with self-regarding fuel, making beauty shallow by your preoccupation with your looks. In this you are your own enemy, being cruel to yourself. You who are the world’s most beautiful ornament and the chief messenger of spring, are burying your gifts within yourself And, dear selfish one, because you decline to reproduce, you are actually wasting that beauty. Take pity on the world or else be the glutton who devours, with the grave, what belongs to the world.

  3. Paraglider profile image89
    Paragliderposted 8 years ago

    Yes, that's quite a good translation. I first saw it here  These translations are good as an introduction to the sonnets, but not as a substitute for them, of course.

  4. karthu profile image60
    karthuposted 8 years ago

    Of course......

    But this is good for a beginner to get a grip on his works........

  5. Paraglider profile image89
    Paragliderposted 8 years ago

    Yes. If you're not used to the Elizabethan English, reading the modern prose can help, as a way in.

  6. Mark Knowles profile image59
    Mark Knowlesposted 8 years ago

    I always find that going to see the play live helps a lot. Even if they use the old English, you seem to be able to understand it (if it is a decent production).

    I guess that is because it was written to be performed rather than read?

  7. karthu profile image60
    karthuposted 8 years ago

    Mark is right......It will be nice experience to watch it live...
    I never had chance to watch the live performance.....

  8. Paraglider profile image89
    Paragliderposted 8 years ago

    I've been lucky in that respect, living in a theatre town and a short drive from Stratford on Avon (where the Royal Shakespeare Company is based). But compared to the sonnets, the plays are fairly straightforward, as far as language goes.

    1. karthu profile image60
      karthuposted 8 years ago in reply to this

      Great..........I'm eager to see a drama of that kind...Don't know whether i get a chance to see that..

      I think the sonnnets are meant not for reading for pleasure. You should think after reading every line.Even you get the meaning of that, there are thousands and thousands of hidden meanings. The more you get it the better your imagination skills...
      I guess IMAGIATION is not the word i should use....

  9. Paraglider profile image89
    Paragliderposted 8 years ago

    That's right. Also, the sonnets have many themes running through the whole sequence, so while some stand alone as poems in their own right, the sequence is really the work. And people have been discussing and analysing it for centuries. Nice to meet a fellow appreciator!

    1. karthu profile image60
      karthuposted 8 years ago in reply to this

      Thank you..............Nice to meet you too...........

  10. Teresa McGurk profile image82
    Teresa McGurkposted 7 years ago

    I've always liked Shakespeare, and was intrigued by the notion of translating the sonnet into modern prose.  But, not being able to leave well alone, I couldn't help having a go at writing a verse form in iambic pentameter.  I couldn't get it to rhyme at all, but I did have fun doing this, and learned a lot about the sonnet in the process.

    From Fairest Creatures we desire increase
    Take 2
    Young, handsome men should always reproduce,
    So that the gene pool could retain good looks;
    So, as the aged wrinkle up and die,
    The young are left to carry on the line.
    But you, reflected in your own self-love,
    Consume yourself, devouring your own looks
    With hungry gaze that never sees enough
    Of your own beauty, thus your enemy.
    You, who now are handsome as a bloom
    That indicates sweet spring is on the way,
    Hide your gifts beneath your outward show
    And, craven boy, waste youth by being -- good.
    Pity the world, or else go cast your seed
    On sterile ground, instead of sown wild oats.

    Nah -- not going to win any prizes; but a fun exercise!  Anyone else want to have a go at Sonnet 116 (Let me not to the marriage of true minds)?

  11. ArtSiren profile image61
    ArtSirenposted 7 years ago

    Well I enjoyed it Teresa! When I read the thread header, I thought it was going to be a translation into modern English - and remain a sonnet rather than prose. So nice to have both the prose and your poem.

    Brave though - to get the meaning into modern English AND retain the rhyme and iambic pentameter, a fairly impossible task. So on that basis I'll decline your invitation for Sonnet 116. lol.

  12. Paraglider profile image89
    Paragliderposted 7 years ago

    Good one Teresa. I wonder if you've come across this site, where you'd be most welcome-


    (Despite the .com, it is a good place_

    1. Teresa McGurk profile image82
      Teresa McGurkposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Oh, thank you! -- looks great, and I am about to disappear into sonnetworld. . .


  13. solarcaptain profile image75
    solarcaptainposted 7 years ago

    shakespeare in modern English......Why?  Would you use Tony Curtis as the narrator?
    I jest, of course. Many great works have been translated into modern versions with great success and I'm willing to check it out.  I think it's a good jumping off point and that's what ama goonadoo.
    thanks for the post.  All my creative juices are flowing now, and I love your picture. You look like someone who has mediated between fun and serious. fun has won out. Good for you,.Teresa Mcgurk.

    1. Teresa McGurk profile image82
      Teresa McGurkposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Dang, Solarcaptain -- how'd you know I am channeling Julie Andrews and Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

      But on the topic -- I found a version of Petrarch's S’amor non è, che dunque è quel ch’io sento? which had been translated by Chaucer (not as a sonnet, nor exactly following Petrarch that closely).  Many poets have translated it since then, and over centuries we can gauge how English -- and our perceptions of the topic -- have changed.  It's fascinating.  I tried my hand at it, too, just to bring it into my decade.  I'll probably end up writing a hub on it, but here's Petrarch's version and Chaucer's translation:


      S'amor non è, che dunque è quel ch'io sento?

      Ma s'egli è amor, perdio, che cosa et quale?

      Se bona, onde l'effecto aspro mortale?

      Se ria, onde sí dolce ogni tormento?

      S'a mia voglia ardo, onde 'l pianto e lamento?

      S'a mal mio grado, il lamentar che vale?

      O viva morte, o dilectoso male,

      come puoi tanto in me, s'io no 'l consento?

      Et s'io 'l consento, a gran torto mi doglio.

      Fra sí contrari vènti in frale barca

      mi trovo in alto mar senza governo,

      sí lieve di saver, d'error sí carca

      ch'i' medesmo non so quel ch'io mi voglio,

      et tremo a mezza state, ardendo il verno.

      Chaucer-- (it's in Troilus and Criseyde):
      "If no loue is, O god, what fele I so?
      401: And if loue is, what thing and which is he?
      402: If loue be good, from whennes cometh my woo?
      403: If it be wikke, a wonder thynketh me,
      404: Whenne euery torment and aduersite
      405: That cometh of hym may to me sauory thinke,
      406: ffor ay thurst I the more that ich it drynke.

      407: "And if that at myn owen lust I brenne,
      408: ffrom whennes cometh may waillynge and my pleynte?
      409: If harme a-gree me, wherto pleyne I thenne?
      410: I noot, ne whi vn-wery that I feynte.
      411: O quike deth, O swete harm so queynte,
      412: How may of the in me swich quantite,
      413: But if that I consente that it be?

      414: "And if that I consente, I wrongfully
      415: Compleyne, i-wis; thus possed to and fro,
      416: Al sterelees with-inne a boot am I
      417: Amydde the see, bitwixen wyndes two,
      418: That inne contrarie stonden euere mo.
      419: Allas, what is this wondre maladie?
      420: ffor hete of cold, for cold of hete, I dye."

      I guess I should list all the translations I can find -- but it intrigues me that the same poem can live differently in different times --

  14. Uninvited Writer profile image83
    Uninvited Writerposted 7 years ago

    How about this:

    Shakespeare in Klingon:

    Sonnet #18 -- "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

    qaDelmeH bov tuj pem vIlo'choHQo'.
    SoH 'IH 'ej belmoH law', 'oH belmoH puS.
    jar vagh tIpuq DIHo'bogh Sang SuS ro'.
    'ej ratlhtaHmeH bov tuj leSpoH luvuS.

    rut tujqu' bochtaHvIS chal mIn Dun qu' .
    rut DotlhDaj SuD wov HurghmoHmeH, HuvHa'.
    'ej reH Hoch 'IHvo' Sab Hoch 'IH, net tu'.
    'u' He choHmo', San jochmo' joq quvHa'.

    'ach not wovHa'choH jubbogh bovlIj tuj,
    'ej not ghomHa'choH Hochvetlh 'IH Daghajbogh,
    'ej "QIbwIjDaq bIleng" not mIy Hegh nuj,
    bovmey DaDontaHvIS, DojwI' nIHajbogh!

    tlhuHlaH 'ej legh, wej 'e' lumevchugh nuv,
    vaj yIntaH bomvam, 'ej DuyInmoH quv.

    Translated by Nick Nicholas. KLI, 1994.

  15. alekhouse profile image80
    alekhouseposted 7 years ago

    I'm so excited to find so many people interested in Shakespeare. I go to the festival in Stratford every October. It's wonderful, with some of the finest Shakepearean actors. My favorite sonnet in #18. His sonnets were written in iambic pentameter, which means 5 iams per line. An iam in a combination of a weak followed by a strong beat. Following is my last attempt at iambic pentameter:


    I'd crept into the deepest darkest place,
    Where life and love no longer saw my face.
    My heart was cold, my very soul was dead.
    My only solace, memories in my head.

    You came to me and caught me unaware,
    And unprepared, I fell into your lair.
    I struggled as you crawled into my mind,
    Afraid of what your loving me might find.

    And as I stayed resistant to your touch
    You never turned away, instead t'was such
    an oh so gentle nudging at my soul
    that woke me with your ever sweet cajole

    'Til finally I melted in your arms
    Unfolding as a child would, free from harm.
    I gave myself completely, so beguiled.
    A whole new world had opened when you smiled.   


    1. Pamda Man profile image59
      Pamda Manposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      I thought a Shakespearean sonnet was three quatrains and a couplet. 14 lines. Every line had a meter of iambic pentameter and rhymes.

      It actually is quite good. But if you could cut 2 lines out, then it would be a very good Shakespearean sonnet.

      1. Paraglider profile image89
        Paragliderposted 7 years ago in reply to this

        To be fair, I think Alekhouse was writing an exercise in Iambic Pentameter, not intended to be a sonnet. Her poem is in couplets throughout, while the Shakespearean sonnet is in abab quatrains with a final couplet.

        1. alekhouse profile image80
          alekhouseposted 7 years ago in reply to this

          Yes, you're absolutely right

      2. alekhouse profile image80
        alekhouseposted 7 years ago in reply to this

        Pandaman, Yes, you're right of course. I wasn't really trying to write a "Shakespearean Sonnet" This an "Alekhouse Sonnet" smile. But now that you mention it, could I just take out the last two lines in or to make it a Shakespearean Sonnet? I think it would still make sense. What do you think?

        1. Pamda Man profile image59
          Pamda Manposted 7 years ago in reply to this

          Well, the poem still retains its meaning if you delete the last 2 lines. You could make 2 versions of the poem perhaps. big_smile

  16. Paraglider profile image89
    Paragliderposted 7 years ago

    You've got the IP going fine. (but check out Stanza 3 Line 3 - it's short of a foot)

    Used to go to Stratford a lot when I lived in Evesham. But it's a bit far from Doha wink

    1. alekhouse profile image80
      alekhouseposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Hey PG, you're right. Thanks. I'll change it to:
      "...an oh so gentle nudging at my soul." How's that?

  17. alekhouse profile image80
    alekhouseposted 7 years ago

    Hey! where did everybody go? Did I say something wrong?

    1. Paraglider profile image89
      Paragliderposted 7 years ago in reply to this

      Not even slightly. I think we all ended up writing limericks wink

  18. wrenfrost56 profile image84
    wrenfrost56posted 7 years ago

    This is great I love Shakespeare too! In fact I wrote my second hub for the hub challenge about him yesterday. It's called the brilliant bard. I wanted to write a few things about him that people may not have known, his body of work really is incredible and I love the old English language.

  19. Pamda Man profile image59
    Pamda Manposted 7 years ago

    Yes, but in Shakespearean sonnet, 3 quatrains + 1 couplet > Iambic pentameter > ababcdcdefefgg rhyme scheme.

  20. Pamda Man profile image59
    Pamda Manposted 7 years ago

    Mind if you take a look at my Shakespearean sonnet minus the meter (I haven't got the nerves to do it) http://hubpages.com/hub/To-Humanity lol