Fast Fiction Challenge Classics – Shakespeare On Summer’s Morn

Posted: 18 February 2013 in fast fiction, fiction, writing
Tags: , ,

When I commenced the fast fiction challenge, I wondered how long it would be before someone stuck in an additional twist to the exercise: that the tale would have to involve no dialogue, or that the story must be set in pre-history, or some such.

Must admit that I didn’t see this one coming.

Tony Lee, an old friend, and someone who recently took part in the Twelve Days of Fast Fiction, came up with an absolute cracker of an additional tweak. For the 100th fast fiction challenge I answered, he challenged me to not only use the word “sonnet” in the fast fiction, but to write the story in the form of a Shakespearean sonnet… which meant iambic pentameter.


Well, here it is.

Title: Shakespeare On Summer’s Morn
Word: sonnet
Challenger: Tony Lee
Length: 200 words exactly

They came to town that early August morn,
Ten strolling players come to ply their trade.
To Stratford Common, set up on the lawn,
But only once of course they’d all been paid.
So Master Oliphant, he thus arrived.
Pomposity itself, prepared to speak.
The critics hated him but he’d survived,
(He was perforce the local Shakespeare geek.)
The worst of actors any could recall,
He planned to show them all that very day
Bringing the Bard again to one and all
A playwright born so many years away.
And Oliphant took to the stage once more
As he declaimed “So shaken as we are…”

The opening to Henry Fourth Part One
Commencing with those very words that way.
Through his performance Oliphant did stun
Much nicer than the truth: he stank that day.
But nonetheless, there was no doubt at all
The audience, they left the Common fast.
Such an abysmal, laughable portray’l
Unanimous verdict: “Please be the last!”
So Oliphant slunk off to sulk alone
Performances of others carried on
Without poor Oliphant, they did atone
And slowly did the audience return.
Soon someone told Oli where he’d gone wrong:
“Stick to a bloody sonnet from now on!”

© Lee Barnett, 2005

“There are two hundred stories collected in this volume. They are funny, they are thoughtful, they are romantic, they are frightening. To me, though, they are more than entertaining. They are inspiring.” – Wil Wheaton, from his introduction to volume 2 of The Fast Fiction Challenge

Two volumes of The Fast Fiction Challenge, containing 180 stories in Volume 1 and a further 200 stories in Volume 2, are available from, and in some countries on Amazon. ebooks available from the author; email for details.

Buy the ebook of You’ll Never Believe A Man Can Fly for £4.99 – click here

  1. Kate Hahn says:


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