The Complete Works of William Shakespeare—in Haiku (Guest Post)

Several years ago, kj (of Bardfilm fame) happened upon a haiku competition. The competition required joining Twitter, and Bardfilm’s first tweet (which won second prize) was a haiku containing the entirety of Hamlet. Since then, kj has periodically added to his collection of Shakespearean haiku—until he created this astonishing set of poems. Let the world take note: The Complete Works of Shakespeare. (Haiku by Bardfilm).

The Complete Works

The first folio.
Thirty-seven Shakespeare plays.
Not one Pericles.


A wandering ghost.
My dead father cries, “Uncle!”
I must have revenge.

The Winter’s Tale

Much like Othello,
I drink—and see the spider.
Perdita is lost.

The Tempest

Thunder, tempest, calm.
Old enemies reconciled.
Caliban remains.


The three weird sisters:
“When shall we three meet again?”
Macbeth: “Don’t ask me!”

Richard III

I want to be King.
So many stand in my way.
King Richard the Third.

As You Like It

All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women
Are merely players.

King Lear

Which one loves me most?
Nothing shall come of nothing.
Foolish, fond old man.

Romeo and Juliet

Running late, of course.
Not that it’s really my fault . . .
What? Juliet’s dead?

The Comedy of Errors

Double, double twins.
Ephesus or Syracuse?
Confusion . . . Resolved.

Love’s Labour’s Lost

Four men disdain love.
Four lovely ladies arrive.
And now—the sequel.

Love’s Labour’s Found

Where did I put that?
I swear, it was over here.
It will turn up soon.

Titus Andronicus

Endless violence.
Hamlet:  The rest is silence.
Lavinia knows.

Julius Caesar

On the Ides of March.
Which one is honorable?
Brutus was a man.


Honest Iago.
A magical handkerchief.
I loved not wisely.

Timon of Athens

Hating flatterers,
The greatest of misanthropes—
He can’t not find gold.

Antony and Cleopatra

Rome in Tiber melts.
Infinite variety.
At least the asp lives.


For Rome; against Rome; for Rome.
A circle of blood.

Merry Wives of Windsor

Queen Liz liked Falstaff.
“Write one with Sir John in Love.”
It wasn’t his best.

Richard II

Royal throne of kings,
This sceptered isle, this England,
Deposes bad kings.

Henry V

Take one muse of fire,
Add an Agincourt rally:
Make bands of brothers.


Shakespeare plays lined up.
Pericles, the Prince of Tyre,
Nearly forgotten.

1 Henry VI

Triumph on the stage
With ten thousand spectators.
It joyed brave Talbot.

2 Henry VI

Jack Cade steals the show.
Henry Six Ain’t Henry Five.
Kill all the Lawyers.

3 Henry VI

“O tiger’s heart wrapped”
(Runs the play’s most famous line)
“In a woman’s hide.”

1 Henry IV

Young Hal in Eastcheap.
Banish not sweet Jack Falstaff.
Kill Hotspur instead.

2 Henry IV

I know England’s King!
But I know thee not, old man.
Falstaff deflated.

Two Gentlemen of Verona

Who is Sylvia?
Valentine’s no gentleman.
Nor is Proteus.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The course of true love.
Forests, donkeys, love potions.
Puck restores amends.

Measure for Measure

Such hypocrisy.
His urine is congealed ice—
Yet he loves a nun.

Merchant of Venice

Gold, silver, and lead.
The will of a dead father.
And one pound of flesh.

Henry VIII

The Maiden Phoenix.
Her ashes create an heir.
The play burned The Globe.

The Taming of the Shrew

Old Petruchio,
At the end of his life, thinks,
“Wait. Was I the shrew?”

Two Noble Kinsmen

Two master writers.
Whose narrative is better?
Frankly, Chaucer’s is.

King John

Eighteen ninety-nine.
The first Shakespeare play on film.
Beerbohm-Tree’s King John.

Much Ado About Nothing

Merry war of wits.
Much ado about nothing.
Sigh no more, ladies.


Troilus and Cressida

Prium, King of Troy–
Troilus and Cressida.
Wiley Ulysses.

Twelfth Night

Wear yellow stockings.
Have greatness thrust upon you.
Malvolio’s mad.

All’s Well That Ends Well            

Problem comedy:
The bed trick marries Bertram.
Love ever endures.


Imogene is dead.
Golden lads and maids all must—
Hang on—she’s alive!

Our thanks for this guest post to kj, the author of Bardfilm. Bardfilm is a blog that comments on films, plays, and other matters related to Shakespeare.

3 thoughts on “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare—in Haiku (Guest Post)

  1. Don't forget the sonnets:

    Summer's days, syphilis,
    Love overcoming sorrow,
    And some dark lady.

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