The OP audio recordings of the plays are orientation recordings, made to help actors become familiar with their parts. I call them 'flat' recordings, because they are simply a voice reading the OP as accurately as possible, with no attempt to superimpose characterization or emotion. Most were made on home computers, not in a studio. The recordings vary in the edition used, and in the way they are organized, as they were made in response to a director's specific request. Some reflect a director's cut. Any accompanying transcriptions use a semi-phonetic system, as described in Pronouncing Shakespeare (CUP, 2005, 2nd edn 2019), in which phonetic symbols are used only where there are points of difference with modern English. For full transcriptions of individual words, see The Oxford Dictionary of Original Shakespearean Pronunciation (OUP, 2017). All prices include VAT at 20 per cent if applicable.

OP recordings of other authors and periods are currently in preparation, and will appear on this page in due course.


Whole texts

A Winter's Tale
Made for the Thomas Delise production at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, 2016
The whole play, in the edition used in the Shakespeare's Words website, with a semi-phonetic transcription as used originally for the production at the University of Nevada in 2010.
Julius Caesar
The whole play, in the edition used in the Shakespere's Words website
Made for Ben Crystal's Passion in Practice production at Shakespeare's Globe, 2014, with transcription
Romeo and Juliet
Made for Rene Weis' edition of the play for Arden (2012), a page-by-page recording following the earlier edition by Gibbons
The Merchant of Venice
Made for the Thomas Delise production at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, 2014
Troilus and Cressida
Made for the Giles Block production at Shakespeare's Globe, 2005, with transcription and notes
Twelfth Night
Made 2011 for various productions, with transcription



Fear no more the heat of the sun
First Folio
Heminge and Condell Preface
First Folio
Jonson Preface
Henry 4 Part 2
Henry 4 Part 2
Henry 5
3.2.58-143 Four Captains, different accents
Henry 5 Epilogue
Henry 5 Epilogue
Henry 5 Chorus
preceding Act 1
Henry 5 Chorus
preceding Act 2
Henry 5 Chorus
preceding Act 3
Henry 5 Chorus
preceding Act 4
Henry 5 Chorus
preceding Act 5
1.1 to 3.2 Made for Ben Crystal's Passion in Practice production in Stockholm and Savannah, 2015
Gower Epilogue
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 1
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 2
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 3
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 4
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 4 scene 4a
Pericles Chorus
Gower during Act 4 scene 4b
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 5
Pericles Chorus
Gower preceding Act 5 scene 2

King James Bible

King James Bible
1 In the beginning (Genesis 1)
King James Bible
2 Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)
King James Bible
3 The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20)
King James Bible
4 The Lord is my shepherd (Psalm 23)
King James Bible
5 Out of the depths (Psalm 130)
King James Bible
6 To everything there is a season (Ecclesiastes 3)
King James Bible
7 The people that walked in darkness (Isaiah 9)
King James Bible
8 The Beatitudes (Matthew 5)
King James Bible
9 The Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6)
King James Bible
10 The Magnificat (Luke 1)
King James Bible
11 The Nativity (Luke 2)
King James Bible
12 The Prodigal Son (Luke 15).
King James Bible
13 In the beginning was the Word (John 1)
King James Bible
14 Though I speak with the tongues (Corinthians 1)
Sonnet 1
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory: ...
Sonnet 2
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tattered weed of small worth held: ...
Sonnet 3
Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another,
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother. ...
Sonnet 4
Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend
Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?
Nature's bequest gives nothing but doth lend,
And being frank she lends to those are free. ...
Sonnet 5
Those hours that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell
Will play the tyrants to the very same,
And that unfair which fairly doth excel: ...
Sonnet 6
Then let not winter's ragged hand deface
In thee thy summer, ere thou be distilled:
Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place
With beauty's treasure ere it be self killed. ...
Sonnet 7
Lo, in the Orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty; ...
Sonnet 8
Music to hear, why hear'st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:
Why lov'st thou that which thou receiv'st not gladly,
Or else receiv'st with pleasure thine annoy? ...
Sonnet 9
Is it for fear to wet a widow's eye
That thou consum'st thyself in single life?
Ah; if thou issueless shalt hap to die,
The world will wail thee like a makeless wife; ...
Sonnet 10
For shame, deny that thou bear'st love to any
Who for thyself art so unprovident:
Grant, if thou wilt, thou art beloved of many,
But that thou none lov'st is most evident: ...
Sonnet 11
As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow'st,
In one of thine, from that which thou departest,
And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow'st
Thou mayst call thine, when thou from youth convertest. ...
Sonnet 12
When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silvered o'er with white; ...
Sonnet 13
O that you were yourself, but, love, you are
No longer yours than you yourself here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give. ...
Sonnet 14
Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck,
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good, or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality; ...
Sonnet 15
When I consider everything that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment; ...
Sonnet 16
But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhyme? ...
Sonnet 17
Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts: ...
Sonnet 18
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date: ...
Sonnet 19
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood; ...
Sonnet 20
A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion; ...
Sonnet 21
So is it not with me as with that Muse,
Stirred by a painted beauty to his verse,
Who heaven itself for ornament doth use,
And every fair with his fair doth rehearse, ...
Sonnet 22
My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date,
But when in thee time's furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate. ...
Sonnet 23
As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart; ...
Sonnet 24
Mine eye hath played the painter and hath steeled
Thy beauty's form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein 'tis held,
And perspective it is best painter's art. ...
Sonnet 25
Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars,
Unlooked-for joy in that I honour most. ...
Sonnet 26
Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage
Thy merit hath my duty strongly knit,
To thee I send this written ambassage
To witness duty, not to show my wit: ...
Sonnet 27
Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired,
But then begins a journey in my head
To work my mind, when body's work's expired. ...
Sonnet 28
How can I then return in happy plight
That am debarred the benefit of rest?
When day's oppression is not eased by night,
But day by night and night by day oppressed? ...
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, ...
Sonnet 30
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear times' waste: ...
Sonnet 31
Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead,
And there reigns Love and all Love's loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried. ...
Sonnet 32
If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust shall cover,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover, ...
Sonnet 33
Full many a glorious morning have I seen
Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy: ...
Sonnet 34
Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day,
And make me travel forth without my cloak,
To let base clouds o'ertake me in my way,
Hiding thy brav'ry in their rotten smoke? ...
Sonnet 35
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud;
Clouds and eclipses stain both Moon and Sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud. ...
Sonnet 36
Let me confess that we two must be twain,
Although our undivided loves are one:
So shall those blots that do with me remain,
Without thy help, by me be borne alone. ...
Sonnet 37
As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by Fortune's dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth. ...
Sonnet 38
How can my Muse want subject to invent,
While thou dost breathe that pour'st into my verse
Thine own sweet argument, too excellent
For every vulgar paper to rehearse? ...
Sonnet 39
Oh how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is't but mine own when I praise thee? ...
Sonnet 40
Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine before thou hadst this more: ...
Sonnet 41
Those petty wrongs that liberty commits,
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
Thy beauty and thy years full well befits,
For still temptation follows where thou art. ...
Sonnet 42
That thou hast her it is not all my grief,
And yet it may be said I loved her dearly;
That she hath thee is of my wailing chief,
A loss in love that touches me more nearly. ...
Sonnet 43
When most I wink then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed. ...
Sonnet 44
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way,
For then despite of space I would be brought
From limits far remote where thou dost stay. ...
Sonnet 45
The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These present absent with swift motion slide. ...
Sonnet 46
Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war,
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right. ...
Sonnet 47
Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other:
When that mine eye is famished for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother, ...
Sonnet 48
How careful was I when I took my way,
Each trifle under truest bars to thrust,
That to my use it might unused stay
From hands of falsehood, in sure wards of trust! ...
Sonnet 49
Against that time (if ever that time come)
When I shall see thee frown on my defects,
Whenas thy love hath cast his utmost sum,
Called to that audit by advised respects; ...
Sonnet 50
How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek (my weary travel's end)
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say
Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend. ...
Sonnet 51
Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer, when from thee I speed:
From where thou art why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need. ...
Sonnet 52
So am I as the rich, whose blessed key
Can bring him to his sweet uplocked treasure,
The which he will not ev'ry hour survey,
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure. ...
Sonnet 53
What is your substance, whereof are you made,
That millions of strange shadows on you tend?
Since every one hath, every one, one shade,
And you but one, can every shadow lend. ...
Sonnet 54
Oh how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live. ...
Sonnet 55
Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme,
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time. ...
Sonnet 56
Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said
Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,
Which but today by feeding is allayed,
Tomorrow sharpened in his former might. ...
Sonnet 57
Being your slave, what should I do but tend
Upon the hours and times of your desire?
I have no precious time at all to spend,
Nor services to do, till you require. ...
Sonnet 58
That god forbid that made me first your slave,
I should in thought control your times of pleasure,
Or at your hand th' account of hours to crave,
Being your vassal, bound to stay your leisure. ...
Sonnet 59
If there be nothing new, but that which is
Hath been before, how are our brains beguiled,
Which labouring for invention bear amiss
The second burthen of a former child? ...
Sonnet 60
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end,
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend. ...
Sonnet 61
Is it thy will, thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows like to thee do mock my sight? ...
Sonnet 62
Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye,
And all my soul, and all my every part;
And for this sin there is no remedy,
It is so grounded inward in my heart. ...
Sonnet 63
Against my love shall be as I am now
With Time's injurious hand crushed and o'erworn,
When hours have drained his blood and filled his brow
With lines and wrinkles, when his youthful morn ...
Sonnet 64
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down rased,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage; ...
Sonnet 65
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,
But sad mortality o'ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower? ...
Sonnet 66
Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimmed in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn, ...
Sonnet 67
Ah wherefore with infection should he live,
And with his presence grace impiety,
That sin by him advantage should achieve,
And lace itself with his society? ...
Sonnet 68
Thus in his cheek the map of days outworn,
When beauty lived and died as flowers do now,
Before these bastard signs of fair were born,
Or durst inhabit on a living brow; ...
Sonnet 69
Those parts of thee that the world's eye doth view
Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend;
All tongues (the voice of souls) give thee that due,
Uttering bare truth, even so as foes commend. ...
Sonnet 70
That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect,
For slander's mark was ever yet the fair;
The ornament of beauty is suspect,
A crow that flies in heaven's sweetest air. ...
Sonnet 71
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell: ...
Sonnet 72
O lest the world should task you to recite
What merit lived in me, that you should love
After my death (dear love) forget me quite,
For you in me can nothing worthy prove. ...
Sonnet 73
That time of year thou mayst in me behold,
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. ...
Sonnet 74
But be contented when that fell arrest
Without all bail shall carry me away,
My life hath in this line some interest,
Which for memorial still with thee shall stay. ...
Sonnet 75
So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As 'twixt a miser and his wealth is found. ...
Sonnet 76
Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new found methods and to compounds strange? ...
Sonnet 77
Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear,
And of this book this learning mayst thou taste. ...
Sonnet 78
So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse,
And found such fair assistance in my verse,
As every alien pen hath got my use,
And under thee their poesy disperse. ...
Sonnet 79
Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid,
My verse alone had all thy gentle grace,
But now my gracious numbers are decayed,
And my sick Muse doth give another place. ...
Sonnet 80
O how I faint when I of you do write,
Knowing a better spirit doth use your name,
And in the praise thereof spends all his might
To make me tongue-tied, speaking of your fame. ...
Sonnet 81
Or I shall live your epitaph to make,
Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;
From hence your memory death cannot take,
Although in me each part will be forgotten. ...
Sonnet 82
I grant thou wert not married to my Muse,
And therefore mayst without attaint o'erlook
The dedicated words which writers use
Of their fair subject, blessing every book. ...
Sonnet 83
I never saw that you did painting need,
And therefore to your fair no painting set;
I found (or thought I found) you did exceed
The barren tender of a poet's debt; ...
Sonnet 84
Who is it that says most, which can say more,
Than this rich praise, that you alone are you,
In whose confine immured is the store,
Which should example where your equal grew? ...
Sonnet 85
My tongue-tied Muse in manners holds her still,
While comments of your praise, richly compiled,
Reserve their character with golden quill,
And precious phrase by all the Muses filed. ...
Sonnet 86
Was it the proud full sail of his great verse,
Bound for the prize of (all too precious) you,
That did my ripe thoughts in my brain inhearse,
Making their tomb the womb wherein they grew? ...
Sonnet 87
Farewell; thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know'st thy estimate;
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing;
My bonds in thee are all determinate. ...
Sonnet 88
When thou shalt be disposed to set me light,
And place my merit in the eye of scorn,
Upon thy side against myself I'll fight,
And prove thee virtuous, though thou art forsworn. ...
Sonnet 89
Say that thou didst forsake me for some fault,
And I will comment upon that offence;
Speak of my lameness, and I straight will halt,
Against thy reasons making no defence. ...
Sonnet 90
Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss: ...
Sonnet 91
Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body's force,
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill,
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse. ...
Sonnet 92
But do thy worst to steal thyself away,
For term of life thou art assured mine,
And life no longer than thy love will stay,
For it depends upon that love of thine. ...
Sonnet 93
So shall I live, supposing thou art true,
Like a deceived husband; so love's face
May still seem love to me, though altered new;
Thy looks with me, thy heart in other place. ...
Sonnet 94
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, ...
Sonnet 95
How sweet and lovely dost thou make the shame,
Which, like a canker in the fragrant rose,
Doth spot the beauty of thy budding name!
Oh in what sweets dost thou thy sins enclose! ...
Sonnet 96
Some say thy fault is youth, some wantonness,
Some say thy grace is youth and gentle sport;
Both grace and faults are loved of more and less;
Thou mak'st faults graces, that to thee resort. ...
Sonnet 97
How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December's bareness everywhere! ...
Sonnet 98
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud pied April (dressed in all his trim)
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything;
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him. ...
Sonnet 99
The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells ...
Sonnet 100
Where art thou, Muse, that thou forgett'st so long
To speak of that which gives thee all thy might?
Spend'st thou thy fury on some worthless song,
Dark'ning thy power to lend base subjects light? ...
Sonnet 101
O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends
For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?
Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
So dost thou too, and therein dignified. ...
Sonnet 102
My love is strengthened, though more weak in seeming;
I love not less, though less the show appear;
That love is merchandised whose rich esteeming
The owner's tongue doth publish everywhere. ...
Sonnet 103
Alack, what poverty my Muse brings forth,
That having such a scope to show her pride,
The argument all bare is of more worth
Than when it hath my added praise beside. ...
Sonnet 104
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers' pride; ...
Sonnet 105
Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so. ...
Sonnet 106
When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights,
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights, ...
Sonnet 107
Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come,
Can yet the lease of my true love control,
Supposed as forfeit to a confined doom. ...
Sonnet 108
What's in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?
What's new to speak, what new to register,
That may express my love, or thy dear merit? ...
Sonnet 109
O never say that I was false of heart,
Though absence seemed my flame to qualify.
As easy might I from myself depart
As from my soul which in thy breast doth lie. ...
Sonnet 110
Alas, 'tis true, I have gone here and there,
And made myself a motley to the view,
Gored mine own thoughts, sold cheap what is most dear,
Made old offences of affections new. ...
Sonnet 111
O for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds. ...
Sonnet 112
Your love and pity doth th' impression fill,
Which vulgar scandal stamped upon my brow,
For what care I who calls me well or ill,
So you o'ergreen my bad, my good allow? ...
Sonnet 113
Since I left you, mine eye is in my mind,
And that which governs me to go about
Doth part his function, and is partly blind,
Seems seeing, but effectually is out; ...
Sonnet 114
Or whether doth my mind being crowned with you
Drink up the monarch's plague, this flattery?
Or whether shall I say mine eye saith true,
And that your love taught it this alchemy, ...
Sonnet 115
Those lines that I before have writ do lie,
Even those that said I could not love you dearer,
Yet then my judgement knew no reason why
My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer. ...
Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove. ...
Sonnet 117
Accuse me thus, that I have scanted all
Wherein I should your great deserts repay,
Forgot upon your dearest love to call,
Whereto all bonds do tie me day by day; ...
Sonnet 118
Like as to make our appetites more keen
With eager compounds we our palate urge,
As to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness when we purge, ...
Sonnet 119
What potions have I drunk of Siren tears,
Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within,
Applying fears to hopes, and hopes to fears,
Still losing when I saw myself to win! ...
Sonnet 120
That you were once unkind befriends me now,
And for that sorrow, which I then did feel,
Needs must I under my transgression bow,
Unless my nerves were brass or hammered steel. ...
Sonnet 121
'Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed,
When not to be receives reproach of being,
And the just pleasure lost, which is so deemed
Not by our feeling, but by others' seeing. ...
Sonnet 122
Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full charactered with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain
Beyond all date even to eternity; ...
Sonnet 123
No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change.
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight. ...
Sonnet 124
If my dear love were but the child of state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be unfathered,
As subject to Time's love, or to Time's hate,
Weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gathered. ...
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? ...
Sonnet 126
O thou my lovely boy, who in thy power
Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour;
Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st
Thy lovers withering, as thy sweet self grow'st; ...
Sonnet 127
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame: ...
Sonnet 128
How oft, when thou, my music, music play'st,
Upon that blessed wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway'st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds, ...
Sonnet 129
Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjured, murd'rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust, ...
Sonnet 130
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. ...
Sonnet 131
Thou art as tyrannous, so as thou art,
As those whose beauties proudly make them cruel;
For well thou know'st to my dear doting heart
Thou art the fairest and most precious jewel. ...
Sonnet 132
Thine eyes I love, and they, as pitying me,
Knowing thy heart torments me with disdain,
Have put on black, and loving mourners be,
Looking with pretty ruth upon my pain. ...
Sonnet 133
Beshrew that heart that makes my heart to groan
For that deep wound it gives my friend and me!
Is't not enough to torture me alone,
But slave to slavery my sweet'st friend must be? ...
Sonnet 134
So now I have confessed that he is thine,
And I myself am mortgaged to thy will,
Myself I'll forfeit, so that other mine
Thou wilt restore, to be my comfort still. ...
Sonnet 135
Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus;
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus. ...
Sonnet 136
If thy soul check thee that I come so near,
Swear to thy blind soul that I was thy Will,
And will, thy soul knows, is admitted there;
Thus far for love my love-suit sweet fulfil. ...
Sonnet 137
Thou blind fool Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold and see not what they see?
They know what beauty is, see where it lies,
Yet what the best is, take the worst to be. ...
Sonnet 138
When my love swears that she is made of truth,
I do believe her, though I know she lies,
That she might think me some untutored youth,
Unlearned in the world's false subtleties. ...
Sonnet 139
O call not me to justify the wrong
That thy unkindness lays upon my heart.
Wound me not with thine eye but with thy tongue;
Use power with power and slay me not by art. ...
Sonnet 140
Be wise as thou art cruel; do not press
My tongue-tied patience with too much disdain,
Lest sorrow lend me words and words express
The manner of my pity wanting pain. ...
Sonnet 141
In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note,
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote. ...
Sonnet 142
Love is my sin, and thy dear virtue hate,
Hate of my sin, grounded on sinful loving.
O but with mine, compare thou thine own state,
And thou shalt find it merits not reproving; ...
Sonnet 143
Lo, as a careful housewife runs to catch
One of her feathered creatures broke away,
Sets down her babe and makes all swift dispatch
In pursuit of the thing she would have stay; ...
Sonnet 144
Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman coloured ill. ...
Sonnet 145
Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said I hate
To me that languished for her sake;
But when she saw my woeful state, ...
Sonnet 146
Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
My sinful earth these rebel powers that thee array,
Why dost thou pine within and suffer dearth,
Painting thy outward walls so costly gay? ...
Sonnet 147
My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th' uncertain sickly appetite to please. ...
Sonnet 148
O me, what eyes hath love put in my head,
Which have no correspondence with true sight!
Or if they have, where is my judgement fled,
That censures falsely what they see aright? ...
Sonnet 149
Canst thou, O cruel, say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake?
Do I not think on thee when I forgot
Am of myself, all tyrant, for thy sake? ...
Sonnet 150
Oh from what power hast thou this powerful might,
With insufficiency my heart to sway,
To make me give the lie to my true sight,
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day? ...
Sonnet 151
Love is too young to know what conscience is;
Yet who knows not conscience is born of love?
Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss,
Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove: ...
Sonnet 152
In loving thee thou know'st I am forsworn,
But thou art twice forsworn, to me love swearing,
In act thy bed-vow broke and new faith torn,
In vowing new hate after new love bearing. ...
Sonnet 153
Cupid laid by his brand and fell asleep;
A maid of Dian's this advantage found,
And his love-kindling fire did quickly steep
In a cold valley-fountain of that ground; ...
Sonnet 154
The little love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand ...
Ælfric's Colloquy
This text is preserved in a manuscript from the early 11th century. Although there are formal dialogues in earlier poems (as in Beowulf), and the occasional hint of conversation in a prose text, this is the first time we read the give-and-take of an everyday conversation - between a teacher and his students. The pupils are asked to imagine themselves in particular roles, and as the teacher questions them we are given a good sense of the spontaneity and dynamic of an Old English conversation - no different from what we might hear today, in fact, with its short and elliptical sentences. My recording and transcription is of just under half the text - the first 90 conversational turns.

The aim of the Colloquy was to teach the pupils Latin - hence the emphasis on vocabulary lists relating to different jobs. The occasional awkwardness in rhythm and word order is due to the way the Old English text originated - as an interlinear gloss to the original Latin text, where the writer often mechanically follows the Latin, or decides not to bother with a gloss, or makes a mistake. I use the edition of G N Garmondsway, keeping the scribal abbreviation 7 for 'and'.
Ælfric's Colloquy 1: Introduction, Monk, Ploughman
Ælfric's Colloquy 2: Shepherd, Oxherd, Hunter
Ælfric's Colloquy 3: Fisherman, Fowler
The opening tale in Beowulf
The longest epic poem in Old English - 3182 lines - is preserved in a manuscript from around 1000 AD; its original date of composition is unknown. After a general introduction, it tells a series of stories in which the hero, Beowulf, fights and kills a terrorising monster, Grendel, then Grendel's revengeful mother; he returns to his homeland, and meets death while fighting a dragon. My recording follows the story from its opening until just after the killing of Grendel (line 863).

I have followed the text of the poem in Frederick Klaeber's third edition (with supplement, 1941), as this was the one I used when I first learned Old English from Professor A H Smith and his colleagues at University College London in 1959. (A fourth edition appeared in 2008.) I still have my notes and annotations to that book, and I have used these to inform my translation, though taking into account some later research. I have altered Klaeber's punctuation in several places, to better capture the dynamic of the reading. It will be noted that the famous opening word in the tale is not here read as a loud interjection, but as an emphatic adverb, following George Walkden's analysis in English Language and Linguistics (2013).
Beowulf: Introduction (lines 1-52)
Beowulf: Heorot and Grendel (lines 53-114)
Beowulf: Grendel attacks Heorot (lines 115-188)
Beowulf: Journey and arrival of Beowulf (lines 189-257)
Beowulf: Beowulf explains his coming (lines 258-319)
Beowulf: Wulfgar announces Beowulf (lines 320-370)
Beowulf: Hrothgar welcomes Beowulf (lines 371-455)
Beowulf: Hrothgar tells Beowulf about Grendel (lines 456-498)
Beowulf: Unferth taunts Beowulf about Breca (lines 499 to 558)
Beowulf: Breca tale ends and feasting begins (lines 559 to 661)
Beowulf: Beowulf awaits Grendel (lines 662 to 709)
Beowulf: Grendel fights with Beowulf (lines 710 to 790)
Beowulf: Beowulf defeats Grendel (lines 791 to 836)
Beowulf: Rejoicing at Heorot (lines 837 to 863)