Shakespeare by Carol Ann Duffy

Shakespeare poem Carol Ann Duffy Stephen Raw

We commissioned Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy to write a sonnet about Shakespeare, as a personal homage to the playwright.

To accompany the poem, artist Stephen Raw has translated the verse into a series of seven paintings which was unveiled in Novemeber 2012 to mark the end of the World Shakespeare Festival. Visitors can view Stephen Raw's paintings in the Swan Theatre foyer.

Limited edition prints of the work, signed by Carol Ann and Stephen, are available to buy from the RSC shop.


Small Latin and less Greek, all English yours,

dear lad, local, word-blessed, language loved best;

the living human music on our tongues,

young, old, who we were or will be, history's shadow,

love's will, our heart's iambic beat, brother

through time; full-rhyme to us.

Two rivers quote your name;

your journey from the vanished forest's edge

to endless fame – a thousand written souls,

pilgrims, redeemed in poetry – ends here, begins again.

And so, you knew this well, you do not die –

courtier, countryman, noter of flowers and bees,

war's laureate, magician, Janus-faced –

but make a great Cathedral, genius, of this place.

Carol Ann Duffy

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