Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs - Erik Didriksen

[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]

Clever, very clever.

And in proper rhyming structure *and* iambic pentameters (yes, I counted; not for every single sonnet, but I still counted, just to make sure).

This collection of 100 famous songs—some dating back to the mid-20th centuries, some much more recent—revisited as Shakespearian sonnets was very funny to read, as well as interesting: the poetry does respect the form, appropriates some lines from actual plays ("the winter of our disco tent"), and translates modern concepts into Elizabethan wording. Guitars become lutes, cars become coaches... However, the content of the songs is very easy to recognise. Here's an example from Roxanne by The Police:

"Pray, do not put those bawdy vestments on
or paint that vulgar rouge across thy face;
thou needest not those wanton garments don
nor with that ruddy brush thy cheeks debase.
I beg thee to this sordid life forego:
turn not a trick, but prithee turn the page!
O, dear Roxanne, thou dost not need to go
into that den of sin to earn thy wage."

Compare with the song's lyrics, and there you have it. In general, although the sonnets don't include *all* lines (Bohemian Rhapsody, for instance, would be hard to translate in only 14 lines), mostly they really fit their songs counterparts.

Of course, the "downside" is that, to fully enjoy this book, you have to a) be a Shakespeare geek of sorts, and b) know the songs and their lyrics. Without that, odds are it won't be as amusing, or at least not more than "heh, nice". On the other hand, it's also a good opportunity to go and discover/listen to the songs one knows less.

I spent a merry good time reading this book, and I highly recommend it to whoever likes Shakespeare, famous songs, and wants to have a laugh. Not to mention to have fun with friends and/or try to find the real Shakespearian lines in there.