The Sonnet Project
New York Shakespeare Exchange took on a bold project. Commission a film adaptation of all 154 Shakespearean Sonnets. Each film would be assigned a unique New York location and actor. My adaption of Sonnet 44 was chosen to launch the release of the project.
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that, so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan,
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.
In Sonnet 44, the speaker wishes he could move with at the speed of thought to his lover’s side, but must content himself with waiting.
If Willy could travel with the ease and speed of thoughts, he and his love could always be together. But thinking of being a thought is, itself, a killing thought. No, a body composed of the two heavy elements, earth and water, must patiently wait for a reunion. The only profit from these two coarse elements is the heaviness of his tears, which bear witness to both parties’ sorrow.
The use of the word “heavy” throughout refers to heavy, or solid, elements of the body. Solid elements of the flesh cause heavy sorrow. Thought is light, immaterial, and brings happiness