Play Sonnet 29
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 my self 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.
Sonnet 29 sees a very depressed and outcast speaker wishing he could change his fates, but feeling much more favored when he thinks of his lover.
Billy has fallen on hard times in this sonnet, crying out to heaven to no effect. Nothing can change his fate and change the way others see him. But he finds solace in thoughts of his beloved, and it lifts his heart like birdsong. He feels so wealthy in love that he would not change his fate for that of a king’s.
“bootless” means useless. Will was fond of this one, and used it 17 times in the play Othello alone!
His wish to be “featured” like another is not necessarily a plea for attention, but a wish to posess the attractive features of a handsomer bloke.
The feeling of uselessness, outcasting, and disgrace in this poem is thought to be related to the 1592 closing of London playhouses as result of an outbreak of the plague, causing Shakespeare and other actors to live with small wages, and be looked upon as filthy by town society.
1. Holden, Anthony. William Shakespeare: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown, 2002.
Old Town Bar, Union Square, Manhattan
“A true New York classic: Ancient mariners sit side by side with sports nuts, frat boys, and hip preppies (a scene from The Last Days of Disco was filmed here) who struggle valiantly not to use their cell phones. Everyone’s come for the perfectly sized, house-made burgers—not too big but not too small—which are also some of the city’s tastiest. And if you sit downstairs, keep your eyes on the end of the bar to see your order arrive from the upstairs kitchen via dumbwaiter. A post-work mob scene has been sidling up to Old Town’s mahogany bar since 1892.”
ACTOR – Tom Degnan
Tom is thrilled and honored to be a part of The Sonnet Project presented by the New York Shakespeare Exchange. Theatre: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Brick), Much Ado About Nothing (Don John) at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Pride and Prejudice (Charles Bingley) at the Cleveland Play House, Anna Christie (Matt Burke), You Can’t Take It With You (Boris Kholenkov), A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Oberon) at the Monomoy Theatre. TV: Madam Secretary, Blue Bloods, Person of Interest, The Following, White Collar, The Good Wife, One Life to Live, As the World Turns, Magic City. Film: To Whom it May Concern (with Wilmer Valderrama and Dawn Olivieri), and Handsome Harry (with Steve Buscemi, Aidan Quinn, Jamey Sheridan). He’s a proud graduate of the CWRU/CPH MFA program, and the bassist in the band Reserved for Rondee.
DIRECTOR – John Hayden
John is a Director, Actor, Writer and Omelette Maker. Love to the NYC Shakespeare Sonnet movement and the amazing cast and crew of #29.