Friday, June 11, 2010

Response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 115 on David Morneau's 5 OF 4 MUSIC

A Response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 115
by Roxanne Hoffman

My response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 115, "Many Have Asked How We Stay Together" is now up on David Morneau's 5 OF 4 MUSIC website (  Last August, David contacted me, after getting my name from fellow writer Susan Maurer, to participate in his "Love Songs" project.  A composer,  he is creating a set of songs based on Shakespeare's Sonnets. Each song is actually a pair of poems: one sonnet and one contemporary poem.

Here is the original description of the project he sent me:
My goal for these pairings is to find find a contemporary poem that addresses a subject similar to one of Shakespeare's sonnets. I am not looking for a specific relationship between the two beyond this. The modern poem can affirm, contradict, illuminate, ignore, embrace (etc etc) the sonnet. I am not simply looking for tributes or modernizations (though these are also fine). Also, I'm not necessarily looking for sonnets.
By leaving it this open (and vague) I am hoping that a poets choice of their own work also says something about their relationship to Shakespeare and their attitude about his work. I do not want to assume that everyone loves his work, after all not all composers like Mozart.

The other thing I'd like to get from you is input about how the pairing works within the song settings. Which poem comes first? Are they combined in one song or separated into two? Once I have a pair from you I will work on setting them for soprano voice and piano.

— David Morneau
A lover of Shakespeare and a songwriter I was certainly enticed to participate!  David is only accepting one pairing from each contributor but I've continued to work on additional responses.

"Listen," my response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 23, appears in Pushing The Envelope: A Literary Magazine, Issue 2, Part 2 (

A Response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 23
by Roxanne Hoffman

Here's other pairing previously shared with Facebook friends:


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;
Unless you would devise some virtuous lie,
To do more for me than mine own desert,
And hang more praise upon deceased I
Than niggard truth would willingly impart:
O, lest your true love may seem false in this,
That you for love speak well of me untrue,
My name be buried where my body is,
And live no more to shame nor me nor you.
 For I am shamed by that which I bring forth,
 And so should you, to love things nothing worth.

— William Shakespeare

For The Bard

Some say my love for Will is obsolete!
And that these saucy verses we’ve learned to repeat
Have soured — relish turning vinaigrette.
And those fourteen lines that make a sonnet?
Offer little meat to sink one’s teeth into,
Giving these zesty twists of wit less than due.
Perhaps in an age before DVDs and iPods,
When all to pass the time was sex, wine and bards,
Such screws of tongue & ink deserved their fame.
Still — much less has changed while more remains the same —
Don’t we line up to hear the poets slam and sling?
Rejoice while wincing from the smarts of verbal stings?
 And since Love’s pen is not yet out of style,
 I think I’ll keep my love of Will a while!

I for one will not let [Will's] name be buried where [his] body be!  And apparently several others feel the same.  Susan Maurer, Patricia Carragon, Anne Cammon Fiero, Ana Bozicevic, and Cindy Hochman have already contributed their pairs to "Love Songs."  You can read their contributions and learn more about them on David Morneau's 5 OF 4 MUSIC website (

David is still looking for additional contributions to his project, so please take this opportunity to reread Shakespeare's sonnets and create your own match pair! He is also looking for help in raising funds to support "Love Songs" so he can create a CD.  I think you will find Shakespeare address topics we still find relevant today: friendship, love, sex, jealousy, beauty, aging, mortality, and death.  For more information about "Love Songs" contact David Morneau by email: david at 5of4 dot com.

One song, Patricia Carragon's "Corneal Gates," has already been set to music and will have its premiere performance at the end of September. Details follow:

Composer's Voice Concert
Sunday, September 26, 2010
1:00 PM
Jan Hus Church
351 E 74th Street
New York, NY 10021
Free Admission


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