Poem by Kaiser Haq in response to Shakespeare's Sonnet 66

| by Kaiser Haq

For our Sonnet Exchange event at Alchemy Festival this year, Bangladeshi poet Kaiser Haq was commissioned to write a response to Shakespeare. Kaiser chose to take as his starting point Sonnet 66, 'Tired with all these, for restful death I cry'. His response is below.



‘Can we not think of the aim of life as being simply to see?’

                                                           John Gray, Straw Dogs


To be is to see –

Eye can never tire

Of the passing show –


Everything a tad worse

Each morning –

                             scum rising

Visibly – white-hot sun

Blinding eyes with sweat –


Blinkingly you read –

A poet’s retraction

Of satirical verses –


Headlines packed with lies –

Hear the growl of motorbike –

Killer or cop – who knows –


While the perennial masque goes on

For those who’ve made a killing –

To face the tide is folly


But if you’ll join me

Together we’ll take note of things

So long as we can breathe –


So what if one can’t tell

Substance from shadow –

Feeling around’s always been fun –


Call it love

Or what you will



Sonnet 66 - William Shakespeare


Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,

As, to behold desert a beggar born,

And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,

And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

And guilded honour shamefully misplaced,

And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,

And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,

And strength by limping sway disabled,

And art made tongue-tied by authority,

And folly doctor-like controlling skill,

And simple truth miscall'd simplicity,

And captive good attending captain ill:

    Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,

    Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.


Kaiser Haq is a poet, translator and essayist who was educated at the universities of Dhaka and Warwick (PhD). He is a Professor of English, Dhaka University, where he has taught since 1975. He has been a Commonwealth Scholar in the UK and a Senior Fulbright Scholar and Vilas Fellow in the USA.

Haq’s work has appeared in international journals including London MagazineThe Cambridge ReviewChapmanAcumenArielWasafiri and World Literature Written in English. He has published five collections of poetry: Starting Lines (Dhaka 1978), A Little Ado (Dhaka 1978), A Happy Farewell (Dhaka: UPL 1994), Black Orchid (London: Aark Arts 1996), The Logopathic Reviewer’s Song (Dhaka: UPL and London: Aark Arts 2002).

He has edited an anthology, Contemporary Indian Poetry (Ohio State University Press 1990) and translated the Selected Poems of Shamsur Rahman (Dhaka: BRAC 1985); a novel by Rabindranath Tagore, Quartet (Heinemann Asian Writers Series, 1993); and an eighteenth century travel narrative, The Wonders of Vilayet (Leeds: Peepal Tree 2002). He is represented in such anthologies as the Arnold Anthology of Postcolonial Literature in English. Recent works include translation of the novel by Nasreen Jahan The Woman Who Flew (Penguin India); the poetry collections: Published in the Streets of Dhaka: collected poems (UPL, Dhaka); Combien de Bouddhas, a bilingual poetry selection with French translators by Olivier Litvine (Editions Caracteres, Paris) and the retold Bengali epic: The Triumph of the Snake Goddess (Harvard University Press). 


Read Nuhash Humayun's response here. 

Read Daljit Nagra's response here.

Related projects

On Ss Sonnets Image Cropped

In the 400 years since Shakespeare's death, the Sonnets have invited imitation, homage, critique, pa...

Previous Next