Play Sonnet 125

Were’t aught to me I bore the canopy,
With my extern the outward honouring,
Or laid great bases for eternity,
Which proves more short than waste or ruining?
Have I not seen dwellers on form and favour
Lose all and more by paying too much rent
For compound sweet, forgoing simple savour,
Pitiful thrivers, in their gazing spent?
No; let me be obsequious in thy heart,
And take thou my oblation, poor but free,
Which is not mixed with seconds, knows no art,
But mutual render, only me for thee.
     Hence, thou suborned informer! a true soul
     When most impeached stands least in thy control.



In Sonnet 125, the poet comes around to the idea that devotion to his beloved is the purest and most long-lasting thing he can contribute to the world in his brief time on it.

Willy wonders, will it matter at all to him to carry the canopy of a monarch in a procession, honoring their displayed power with his appearance? Or would he find it worthwhile to lay strong foundations of monuments that are meant to last an eternity, which actually last only as long as decay may permit? Has he seen people who focus on appearance and covet associations of power lose everything, and then some, by spending too much on these obsessions? Such strivers elicit pity when they give up simple pleasures for lavish meals, or spend their resources on their fickle wills. Willy is resolute, vowing he shall be obedient and faithful to solely his beloved. It is simple but freely given, contains nothing second-rate, no unnecessary additions, only mutual surrender: myself for yourself. He bids the spy leave: When a faithful person is accused, such informers have no power over them.


Will’s Wordplay

The “suborned informer” or paid spy, referred to in the couplet remains a mystery. Editors and scholars are unsure who this is meant to represent.

Much like other sonnets from what scholars call the “Fair Youth” sequence, this one is apparently instructing the young man to consider his mortality and make the most of his life.


Scholar’s Corner

C.R.B. Combellack subscribes to the idea that there are four characters represented in Sonnet 125: the Speaker, the Friend, the Informer, and the Suborner. He believes that the actions of the first quatrain were accusations leveled against Shakespeare as the Speaker. For Combellack, Shakespeare becomes the canopy-bearer as a means of advancement toward fame and fortune. In the second quatrain, Shakespeare shows how those who participate in these grand gestures often pay too much and lose a great deal only to have their gestures be seen as empty. Combellack sees the third quatrain as the offer of genuine love to the Friend, “uncomplicated by any secondary thought of self-interest, in return for love”. The couplet then changes tone once more as Combellack views it. He sees it as Shakespeare defending himself against gossip by pointing out how “outrageously untrue gossip” could not possibly be believed by his Friend. There is hope in Combellack’s interpretation, because he sees the altruism of the love offered by Shakespeare and how vehemently he denies the rumors against him.


Pomander Walk, Manhattan

Pomander Walk is a cooperative apartment complex in Manhattan, located on the Upper West Side between Broadway and West End Avenue. The complex consists of 27 buildings. Four buildings face West 94th Street, and another seven face West 95th Street, including one with a return facade on West End Avenue. The “Walk” itself, consisting of two rows of eight buildings facing each other across a narrow courtyard, runs through the middle of the block between 94th and 95th, with a locked gate at each end. Each building originally had one apartment on each floor. In recent years, some buildings have been reconfigured to serve as single-family homes.

It is different in style and out of scale with the tall buildings that surround it. Author and former resident Darryl Pinckney called it “an insertion of incredible whimsy” into the Upper West Side. It is not open to the public and visit is by invitation or guided tours only.

The complex is named for Pomander Walk, a romantic comedy by Louis N. Parker that opened in New York in 1910.[4][5][6] The play is set on an imaginary byway near London. The place as built bears a tenuous resemblance to the setting described in the play as “a retired crescent of five very small, old-fashioned houses near Chiswick, on the river-bank. … They are exactly alike: miniature copies of Queen Anne mansions”. New York City’s Pomander Walk is Tudoresque, a style that enjoyed a vogue in America in the years following World War I.

Pomander Walk was built in 1921 by nightclub impresario Thomas J. Healy who planned to build a major hotel on the site. According to city historian Christopher Gray, when Healy was unable to get financing for a hotel, he built the houses that stand on the site today, apparently to provide a temporary cash-flow while he waited to raze them and build the hotel. It was designed by the New York architecture firm King and Campbell. He died in 1927, however, so Pomander Walk remained.

By the 1970s, the complex was rundown and at risk of being demolished. However, it was saved with a City, State, and National Historic Landmark designation in 1982. after tenants banded together to block redevelopment.

In 2009 the owners completed a four-year facade renovation, restoring architectural details that had been lost for decades. In 2008 Landmark West! bestowed their Building Rehabilitation Award on Pomander Walk.

Past residents include Nancy Carroll, Ward Morehouse, Herbert Stothart, Paulette Goddard, and Rosalind Russell.


ACTOR – Harriet Walter

BIO coming soon


DIRECTOR – Bram Lewis

Bio Coming Soon