Ok, I’ve been challenged. I stated on Twitter that I don’t like Sonnet #116 because it’s become so cliche as “the wedding sonnet.” I always hope that I’m going to hear a different one, but I never do. 116 is nice enough in it’s own right, I just get the feeling that people think of that as “the” sonnet and never consider using any others.
Personally (and my regular readers know this whole story) I did Sonnet #17, almost entirely because I liked the whole bit about “the age to come would say ‘This poet lies, such hea’enly touches ne’er touched earthly faces’” bit. (I did not love that being a procreation sonnet, it ends awkwardly with “so you should have a kid”. )
However, I did not have this one done as a reading. Instead, I whispered it in my new wife’s ear during our first dance.
So on Twitter somebody asked me what a good wedding sonnet would be, and I thought it a good question. If you’re going to have someone get up and recite a sonnet to everybody on the occasion of a wedding, which one would you pick? Is 116 the best one? Or is it only used because is says marriage right there in the first line?
UPDATED September, 2010 I liked this idea so much I wrote a book on the subject of Shakespeare wedding quotes, including an entire section on the sonnets.