Oct. 27, 2001

Sonnet 27: Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed

by William Shakespeare

Listen (RealAudio) | How to listen

Poem: "Sonnet 27," by William Shakespeare.

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:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see:
Save that my soul's imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
    Lo, thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
    For thee and for myself no quiet find.

It's the birthday of novelist and biographer A(ndrew) N(orman) Wilson, born in Stone, Staffordshire, England (1950).  He became known in the late 1970s for his farcical novels about the eccentricities of British social life.  His first novel was The Sweets of Pimlico (1977).  His other novels include Who Was Oswald Fish? (1981), Love Unknown (1986), and, most recently, God's Funeral (1999).  In the 1980s, he gained further acclaim as a biographer, and has written well-regarded biographies of Sir Walter Scott, Tolstoy, C.S. Lewis, and the Apostle Paul.

It's the birthday of poet Sylvia Plath, born in Boston (1932).  She published only two books before her death in 1963: a volume of poetry called the Colossus and Other Poems (1960) and the autobiographical novel The Bell Jar (1963), about a young woman's struggle with mental illness.  Other books of poetry followed after her death, including a volume of The Collected Poems in 1981.  She attended Smith College, where she was a gifted writing student.  On the first day of her creative writing class, Professor Alfred Kazin looked over her writing sample and asked her, "If you can write like this, why the dickens do you need a creative writing class?"  She replied, "I'm lonesome here, and I want to talk to you." In the winter of 1963, she was living with her children in a cold flat in London when she turned on the gas on the kitchen stove and committed suicide.

It's the birthday of painter Roy Lichtenstein, born in New York City (1923).  He's most famous for Pop Art paintings borrowing the style of comic books.

It's the birthday of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, born in Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales (1914).   He married at the age of 22.  With a wife and three children to support, he took a job writing radio scripts for the British Ministry of Information.  He was an aircraft gunner during WWII, and after the war became a commentator on poetry for the BBC.  The demands of earning a living, combined with a fast-paced and hard-drinking lifestyle, kept his poetic output small.  What he did write was hugely successful.  In 1952 and 1953, he toured widely in the United States, drinking and lecturing and reading poetry in his hypnotic Welsh brogue.  In early November 1953, he collapsed outside the White Horse Tavern in New York City and died several days later.  He's best known for his Collected Poems (1952) and for the radio play Under Milk Wood (1953).

It's the birthday of novelist and playwright Enid Bagnold, born in Rochester, Kent, England (1889).  Her wartime experiences provided material for her earliest novels, A Diary Without Dates (1917) and The Happy Foreigner (1920).  But she's best known for her 1935 novel, National Velvet, about a 14-year old girl who wins England's Grand National Steeplechase on a horse she bought for 10 pounds.

It's the birthday of British explorer Captain James Cook, born in Marton-in-Cleveland, Yorkshire, England (1728).  When the Royal Society organized its first scientific expedition to the Pacific in 1768, 44-year-old James Cook was chosen as commander.  On the ship H.M.S. Endeavour, he and his team of scientists observed the transit of Venus across the sun, charted all of New Zealand, and successfully navigated the Great Barrier Reef. In 1772, he embarked on a second scientific voyage, which took him to the coast of Antarctica and the South Pacific.  On a third voyage, in 1776, he was killed by Polynesian natives in Hawaii.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »