At a young and impressionable age, probably around the time it was published in 1963, I acquired a copy of Bennett Cerf's Houseful of Laughter, an anthology of humorous pieces by such masters of the genre as Thurber, Benchley, and Perelman. It was through that collection that I first discovered poet and humorist Richard Armour, who was represented by a long excerpt from his parodic history of the United States, It All Started with Columbus. Armour was a long time favorite of mine, largely because he indulged his gift and inclination for puns whenever the occasion presented.
Another of Armour's books was Punctured Poems: Famous First and Infamous Second Lines, in which (as his title suggests) he would take the Famous First Line of a poem and attach to it a risible second line. I no longer have my copy of the book, but I can recall three examples.
- John Milton:
When I consider how my light is spent
I'm glad that utilities come with the rent.
- Walt Whitman:
I sing of myself and praise myself
My picture's in the hallway, my bust's on the shelf.
- And the actual subject of this post, William Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIII:
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Hot? Sweaty? Fly infested?
On April 1, 2005, in the days before that date became the exclusive province of Blawg Review, I took a whack at Sonnet XVIII by reducing it to a PowerPoint slideshow. I gave it no further thought until the good folk at the Catalan literary blog blocs de lletres, who have produced a series of video adaptations of poems in many languages, made Sonnet XVIII their latest selection.
Here it is, in their pleasing if conventional version:
Here then, con vox et musica, is the return of Sonnet XVIII -- The PowerPoint:
Illustration: Photo of handmade limited edition of Sonnet XVIII (edition of 25), by De Walden Press.