Hawks and Horses

Some glory in their birth, some in their skill,
Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force,
Some in their garments, though new-fangled ill;
Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse;
And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure,
Wherein it finds a joy above the rest:
But these particulars are not my measure;
All these I better in one general best.
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments’ cost
Of more delight than hawks and horses be;
And having thee, of all men’s pride I boast:
Wretched in this alone, that thou may’st take
All this away and me most wretched make.

Though many readers will recognise the poem as Shakespeare sonnet number 91, this is not really a literary post but a musical one. I’m really looking forward to next weekend when I’ll be taking part with the choirs of Peterborough Sings! and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in the premiere of Hawks and Horses, a new choral work by composer Errolyn Wallen based on the sonnet.


Errolyn Wallen is well known for Spirit in Motion, performed during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympic Games, and other dramatic modern compositions. Hawks and Horses is every bit as dramatic as any, and Shakespeare’s words, written more than four hundred years ago, seem to resonate even today in our somewhat materialistic society.

The piece will be performed for the first time on Sunday August 30 at St John’s Smith Square, London.



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