Wherein Fr. Z is challenged to record a Shakespeare #ASonnetADay

From a reader…

Father Z you used to make podcasts where you read poetry but you havent done that for a long time now.  I used to like those. I just found on Facebook something the actor Patrick Steward (Captain Picard!) has done. He’s read one of Shakespeare’s sonnets every day. He wants to do all of them. Why don’t you do that?  You have a great voice.  And I know you can do videos because of your Masses.  I’ll donate a $1 a  day if you do!

LOL!  Yes, it’s true that I used to do poetry podcasts. It’s true that I working now also with video.

What an interesting idea. This is the first I’ve heard of Patrick Stewart doing that. I found that he does indeed have a short video every day.  He has recorded over 100 of them at the time of this writing.  They are posted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (which I have but I’ve never used).   They are posted with the hashtag #asonnetaday

I’ve always like Shakespeare.  He played an enormously important role in my early youth, such that I credit him with an important role in my eventual conversion.  To this day I render him tribute with my little “Talk Like Shakespeare Day” scenes.   This year’s homage was Two Gentlemen of Corona.  It may go viral.  I’ve also been been taking a stab at Christopher Marlowe and his newly “discovered” Tragikal History of Doctor Fauci“.    I digress.

Once upon a long time ago, I was quite familiar with the sonnets. I knew many of them by heart and probably still (mostly) do. It would be interesting to see how my view of their content has changed with age. My age, that is. I’ve been subjected to the never-resting time that Shakespeare warns his friend about and describes working upon himself as well. It is valuable to revisit the greats. The words on our pages don’t change… but we do. And as the adage runs, quidquid recipitur, in modo recipientis recipitur.

I like what Stewart does in his little videos. He is in a different place each time. Sometimes he adds a touch of whimsy or makes brief comment, on the text or on life in general. They are informal and not overly polished. They are just fun.

So, yeah. I’ll do this.  And – hey! – After all these years I’d be a paid actor again!  Anyone else want to do the $1 a day thing?  I have a subscription option for that!

And maybe when I’ve done with the Sonnets, I’ll do the Psalms.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Lighter fare, Poetry, Sonnet A Day, Videos and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. abdiesus says:

    Wow what a great idea – how do I sign up?

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Looking forward to your Psalms!

  3. acardnal says:

    Nice. Thank you.

    Now I have to listen to this several times to figure it out. Poetry . . . .

    I like your supplementary idea of reciting the psalms, too.

  4. SanSan says:

    Nice! Thank you Father. I haven’t heard Poetry or read Poetry for years. Fun.

  5. Veilinglady says:

    I really like the psalms idea!

  6. Unwilling says:

    I would gladly subscribe $1/day for Psalm reading and comment.
    But Shakespeare? the Sonnets? a Priest? Fr Z!?

    [Don’t be silly. If you don’t like Shakespeare, don’t listen.]

  7. Elaine Vaccaro says:

    I like the sonnets as they force me to listen closely and it lightens my day. Of course, the psalms would be lovely. You have a good voice for this work. Bring it on!

  8. Andreas says:

    “I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks…” – The Bard, Twelfth Night

  9. scrchristensen says:

    Fr. Z,

    Is there a particular published collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets that you would recommend?

  10. It is hard to go wrong with the Folger Shakespeare Library edition:


    As a matter of fact, the hardcover version is what I used in Sonnet 1.

  11. benedetta says:

    Excellent! I’m looking forward to hearing these!

  12. newishconvert says:

    I vote YES for the Psalms, Father. What a great idea. Wish I had a way to capture your rendition on a podcast listener (what are those things called?). It would be a wonderful way to learn and possibly pray with them like the monks do. Go for it!!

  13. Sonnets first, for now.

  14. KateD says:

    Ooooo! Very cool! Lucky us.

  15. KateD says:

    And you know what, Father! You’ve inspired me to create a Shakespeare’s Sonnets course for our curriculum this year. We will listen to your sonnets each day, so they can get a better ear for it. It’s makes it more interesting to use other media and bring in another voice (other than mom’s).

    Last year, our college aged kid had a role in her school’s Shakespeare production, so we all sat in the evenings and read that play as a family, and then traveled to attended her performance at the end. Her school has a high percentage of Catholic homeschool graduates, so Shakespeare (and LOTR, of course) are YUGE.

    It was so delightful to sit amongst a huge crowd of Shakespeare enthusiasts….is there a word for that? After 400 years, I’m thinking there’s gotta be a term for an ardent fan of the Bard…

  16. The Masked Chicken says:

    KateD wrote:

    “I’m thinking there’s gotta be a term for an ardent fan of the Bard…”

    Hmm..a challenge. I accept. If you are a DC comics fan, how about, Big Bard(a)? How about, The Sharp End of the (Shake)speare? All’s Will that Ends Will? The Friends of Bill (no, wait, that one’s already sort of been taken)? Avid for Avon? Stratospherically Stratford? Gushing about Guildenstern? Sonnet XXV? #NotMarlowe? Hathaway’s Husband’s Henchmen? The Weird Sisters of Will (a reference to the Three Witches of Macbeth)?

    I don’t think I’ve really hit The Name, yet. I shall ponder some more.

    The Chicken

  17. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear KateD,

    (Slaps beak). Of course…The Shakespeare Ladies Club.


    The Chicken

  18. KateD says:

    Super Chicken-

    The Shakespeare Ladies’ Club…Bardolaters one and all!

    We should try their tactics on Hollywood….

  19. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear KateD,

    I’m The Masked Chicken. Super Chicken is the one with the cape. I have the mask. Super Chicken can leap tall coops in a single bound. There is a rumor that SC is not really a chicken, but an alien with a nose job. I, on the other hand, can leap to conclusions in a single bound and my tongue is faster than a merely walking bullet. I am more powerful than a shopping cart.

    I deny the rumor that I was stranded on an island in the North China Sea for five years and I don’t have an underground coop filled with high-tech equipment. I have, however, been known to swing from a dangling participle. I am not a member of a secret crime fighting organization, although I may be friends with Rocky, the Flying Squirrel (he may be a bit before your time). I do not look good in tights.

    At least one of the statements in preceding paragraph may be false.

    The Chicken

  20. Mariana2 says:

    KateD wrote:

    “I’m thinking there’s gotta be a term for an ardent fan of the Bard…”


  21. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m probably the only one who likes an explanation of the sonnets. I love them, love Shakespeare, but I’ve not been exposed to much of it so the meaning of the poetry often eludes me. Fr. Z about 5 years ago or so, you offered a poem for Talk Like Shakespeare Day that had me laughing out loud at multiple points. I’m sure I tried to save it but it’s probably lost in the cosmos of some old computer. It was superb. I love Talk Like Shakespeare Day. It’s helpful when you share what it’s about.

  22. KateD says:

    Masked Chicken- So you DO look super in tights?

    My sons would like to know if you bumped into Death Yolk (aka//SL’EGG Wilson) while there? (But they say they know you weren’t really on the island, Lian Yu, the whole 5 years).

    Mariana2- Yes!

    On a more serious note….Father, What is with the intro to the sonnets?!? It’s gotta be a code, right?


    Does anyone else think it’s strange that Shakespeare, a Catholic recusant’s, Sonnets were published in 1609 with the dedication: “WISHETH.THE.WELL-WISHING. ADVENTURER. IN. SETTING. FORTH” to MR. W. H.

    The same year, 1609, that Henry Wriothesley, third earl of Southhampton, a patron of Shakespeare’s, was an Adventurer in the Virginia Company?

    The same year John Smith published the first account of colonial efforts.

    The same year the Sea Venture on its way to Jamestown wrecked on Summer’s Isle, and was the inspiration for the Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest?

    AND….We just began picking apart this first sonnet. Is Shakespeare talking to a young man?


    Or is he talking to the Church? Or a patron? Trying to convince them to invest in Jamestown? A new place for recusant Catholics to practice their faith freely?

    So that “fairest creatures” ( saints?) might “increase”? And thereby “beauty’s rose” (the Church) might never die?

    When we look at it in the context of recusance, then might “light’s flame” be the soul and what is “self-substanital fuel”? The Eucharist? “A famine where abundance lies”? Something we’ve experienced in the last several months with the pandemic of suspension of public Masses.

    And the rhyming pattern. WHAT is up with THAT?!?

    It looks to me like the Bard came out swinging on this one right from the first sonnet chastising the Church (“…only herald to the gaudy springs”): “Within thy own bud buriest thy content”.

    I know it’s all been debunked….but c’mon. There’s something in there….right?

    ~Hello, my name is KateD, and I’m a conspiracy theorist~

    They say the first step is admitting that you have a problem…..

    But also, Thomas Thorpe, who published the sonnets, did so with out a press or a bookstore, which was not economically viable. And then he closed his business and transferred his last work (a Marlowe) to another publisher in 1624. The year John Smith published The General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Summer Isles. In that he declared 1584 to be the first beginnings and this work the end.

    Isn’t that interesting? I wonder who published Smith’s works….

    And every time I look a different direction there’s yet another piece that seems to fit….

    Such as this 2015 discovery:


    Isn’t a reliquary required beneath an altar to say the Mass? The reliquary was found in a grave in the Jamestown Chapel. BTW, doesn’t that reliquary belong to the Catholic Church, rightfully? Like when archeologists find an Indians remains? Shouldn’t the reliquary be returned? What saint is it?

    Wouldn’t it be cool if we readers were to be able to break the code that so many great minds failed to or have determined didn’t exist.

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear KateD,

    How can the Chinese have a concept of liàn yù, meaning, purgatory, if there were no Catholic influence? Ha! There is no concept of purgatory in any ancient Chinese religion (?).

    As for Death Yolk, I defeated him when he tried to use the Merelycoocoo serum to make an army of super pigeons.

    As for the dedication, have you seen this:


    The Chicken

  24. KateD says:

    Kathleen10- Hi!!!

    This YouTube video is a good start:


    Chicken- !!! Thank you.

Comments are closed.