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To thine own self be true...

Ian McMillan’s poem – Own Self

Who created it?

Ian McMillan



“I'm a writer, performer and broadcaster. I've been presenting The Verb, Radio 3's Cabaret of the Word, since 2002, and I love collaborating with other art forms: composers, visual artists, drama workers. I like to work in community art, encouraging everybody to write and perform.

“I love listening to Shakespeare on the radio, because that form really makes you think about the language.”


My creative response

Own Self

Is this a smartphone 

I see before me,

The screen towards my face?

And when will I meet me again 

In my image's embrace?

When the posing has begun

When the moment's

Lost or won.

Press and click

Take in the view

Then to thine own selfie be true.


About my creative response

I meditated on the phrase, and the word 'selfie' popped into my head. I thought about some other Shakespeare quotes, and built the poem from there; I wanted to end on the variation of the quote. I wrote some of it then slept on it, and it redrafted itself, as they often do.


When have you been ‘true to yourself’?

It's been hard during lockdown and restrictions not to meet with and hug my kids and grandkids; I know it would be easy to break the rules, but I can't.


What is your favourite Shakespeare quote and why?

“…The rest is silence”, from Hamlet (Hamlet Act V Scene 2); it makes me think about treating silence as a precious thing that we should only break with poetry.


Try this!

You can read some more of Ian McMillan’s fabulous Shakespeare-inspired poems on the Shakespeare Week website: