This is Shakespeare’s sonnet #94, read with accompaniment of orchestra and synthetics. Off and on, I’ve been thinking about this poem for more than half my life. When I read it for the first time in college, and shortly thereafter committed it to memory, I joined the legions of eager young scholars to fall in love with its beauty and with its troubling subtext. (Oh, the irony!) As the years have gone on, my appreciation for this work has deepened, and widened, and quite recently I decided to make a recording of it. That thought apparently triggered the music, which I began to compose almost accidentally, and then I experimented with how to bring out the dualistic complexities of the poem, both with the words and with the overall mix. When it was all done, I was surprised and delighted to have concocted a completely license-proof track. This recording will live its entire life never being incorporated into a car commercial, or a dialogue scene on TV, or as background to a radio sales pitch for anything at all. I’ve enabled downloads, for awhile at least, curious if anyone wants this sort of thing. I hope they do. Life is simply better with some Shakespeare on your iPod.
They that have power to hurt and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow,
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces
And husband nature’s riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others but stewards of their excellence.
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity:
For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds;
Lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds.