Shakespeare’s sonnet in an undergrad class in India becomes a bit tough. This is so not because of any obscurity. With very little operative allusions, topicality, Shakespeare’s sonnets are accessible at the linguistic level. What is tough is carrying across the significance, as is always the case with poetry. I have always felt my students wear a puzzled look trying to work out why is the poem worth studying.
They can follow the ‘idea’, they can follow the sum total of the words, the prosody, all: but, so what? I feel this puzzle remains mainly because sonnet is not a familiar form of poetry to them. A Shakesperean sonnet doesnt ‘appear’ as a sweet song when only read.
This time I let them listen to a musical rendition. It is a ‘MacJams collaboration of Jack Miller (dadai), Richard Schletty (rschletty) and Michael Lavoie (Mr. EI Oval)’. Available here. This worked. Listening to the song my students could place it and that changed their perception of the poem.