Shakespeare's Sonnets

I’m not going to bore you with a tedious analysis of these sonnets. I’m a firm believer that poetry should be read, felt, enjoyed, experienced… not torn apart or deconstructed, they ought to be left intact (without being dissected) the way the artist intended them to be. Prose should never be used to explain the beauty of a poem.

I love William Shakespeare, and I adore his poetry. His sonnets are marvelous and I can find one to suit any mood or situation from passion to despair, love to loss, it’s all there. Here’s a list of some of my favorites, depending on my moods…

18 – In junior high I memorized this sonnet and performed it at a student expo. Yeah, it’s one of my more embarrassing childhood memories (I don’t want to talk about it.)

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

71 – This appeals to my morbid side, it’s painfully beautiful.

No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it; for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
Oh, if, I say, you look upon this verse
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.

116 – This was the sonnet that affirmed my love of Shakespeare when I was a girl. It makes so much more sense once you’ve loved and lost. Thank you, William Shakespeare, for sonnet 116.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixèd mark,

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his
height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come,
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

141 – Ah the blindness that takes over when you fall in love, embodied in one amazing sonnet.

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who, in despite of view, is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted;
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unswayed the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.

145 – I love the fear that Shakespeare lays open in this sonnet, it’s human and familiar.

Those lips that Love's own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said, "I hate,"
To me that languished for her sake:
But when she saw my woeful state,
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue, that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom;
And taught it thus anew to greet;
"I hate," she altered with an end,
That followed it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who, like a fiend,
From heaven to hell is flown away;
"I hate," from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying- "not you."

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