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Showing posts with label sonnet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sonnet. Show all posts

Friday, 19 February 2016

Summary and analysis of Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore Sonnet 60


Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore / So do our minutes hasten to their end;"

Like waves moving toward the pebbled shore, the minutes of our lives are ticking down,

"Each changing place with that which goes before / In sequent toil all forwards do contend."

Each minute (or wave) replacing the previous one, in a continuous forward march.

"Nativity, once in the main of light / Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,"

The newborn sun rises above the sea and crawls up to maturity (noontime), where it is kingly,

"Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight / And Time that gave doth now his gift confound."

But slanting eclipses challenge the sun's glory, and Time, which gave the noon sun, now clouds it over.

"Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth / And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,"

Similarly, time destroys the perfection of youth, and carves wrinkles in a beautiful face,

"Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth / And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:"

And time feeds on the preciousness of nature's perfection, and lays waste to all in its path.

"And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand / Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand."

And yet I hope my verse will stand the test of time, praising your worth in spite of Time's cruel hand.

In the sonnet, time is symbolized by concrete images. For example, the opening two lines present a simile in which time is represented by "waves" and "minutes": "Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, / So do our minutes hasten to their end"; here, death is "the pebbled shore" — another concrete image.

In the second quatrain, the poet laments time's unfairness. A child — "Nativity" — is born and, over time, matures to adulthood, and yet the adult now dreads the maturation process as he grows increasingly older and thus reaches the point of death, or the end of time. Time, which gives life, now takes it away: "And Time that gave doth now his gift confound."

The antithesis in lines 9 through 12 is between the aging poet and the youth's good looks. The poet warns, "Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth / And delves the parallels in beauty's brow." In other words, the young man currently is beautiful, but "parallels" — wrinkles — will eventually appear, as they have on the poet. However much the young man and the poet would like beauty to reside forever on the youth's face, "nothing stands but for his [time's] scythe to mow."

Nonetheless, the poet promises to immortalize the youth's good looks before time's wrinkles appear on his face: "And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand, / Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand." Unlike the poet's promise in Sonnet 19, this assurance does not include giving the young man eternal beauty. Even more, the "scythe" in line 12 recalls Sonnet 12's concluding couplet: "And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defense / Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence." Clearly the poet is no longer concerned that the young man have a child to ensure the immortality of his beauty. Now, the poet's own sonnets are the only security the youth needs to gain eternal worth
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Analysis of Sonnet 52 - "So am I as the rich, whose blessed key

Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 52 - "So am I as the rich, whose blessed key"

"So am I as the rich, whose blessed key / Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,"

I am like a rich person whose wonderful key can open up his dear, locked-up treasure,

"The which he will not every hour survey / For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure."

Which he will not visit too often for fear of dulling the excitement of experiencing a rare pleasure.

"Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare / Since, seldom coming, in the long year set,"

That is why feasts are so special and rare, for they occur so seldom throughout the year,

"Like stones of worth they thinly placed are / Or captain jewels in the carcanet."

Sparsely placed like precious stones, or like the largest gems in a jeweled necklace.

"So is the time that keeps you as my chest / Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,"

Similarly, time (or memory) keeps you like my treasure chest, or like a wardrobe hides the robe within,

"To make some special instant special blest / By new unfolding his imprison'd pride."

Awaiting some special occasion to be brought out, to uncover the pride that has been imprisoned.

"Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope / Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope."

You are blessed, you whose worthiness gives measure; to have had you is to triumph, to lack you is at least to hope

Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 52 - "So am I as the rich, whose blessed key"
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What's he saying?

"So am I as the rich, whose blessed key / Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,"

I am like a rich person whose wonderful key can open up his dear, locked-up treasure,

"The which he will not every hour survey / For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure."

Which he will not visit too often for fear of dulling the excitement of experiencing a rare pleasure.

"Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare / Since, seldom coming, in the long year set,"

That is why feasts are so special and rare, for they occur so seldom throughout the year,

"Like stones of worth they thinly placed are / Or captain jewels in the carcanet."

Sparsely placed like precious stones, or like the largest gems in a jeweled necklace.

"So is the time that keeps you as my chest / Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,"

Similarly, time (or memory) keeps you like my treasure chest, or like a wardrobe hides the robe within,

"To make some special instant special blest / By new unfolding his imprison'd pride."

Awaiting some special occasion to be brought out, to uncover the pride that has been imprisoned.

"Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope / Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope."

You are blessed, you whose worthiness gives measure; to have had you is to triumph, to lack you is at least to hope.


Sonnet 52 is wild, hotly contested among scholars for its (possible) abundance of sexual innuendo. It also can be argued that because sonnet 52 comes later in the sequence than sonnet 20, sonnet 52 represents a later stage or evolution of the poet's desires - but arguments based purely on the sonnets' ordering are shaky at best, since some scholars believe that the ordering of the sonnets does not conform to any actual chronology of events.

In sonnet 52 the poet describes the fair lord as a locked-up treasure, a solemn feast, a robe for a special occasion - something special and beautiful and blessed, as only something so rare can be. The language of the sonnet is overtly laudatory and also rationalizing, as it attempts to justify the narrator's separation from the fair lord or the infrequency of his being able to delight in him. As though only permissible on special occasions, the robe is awaiting its chance to come out of the closet, "To make some special instant special blest / By new unfolding his imprison'd pride."

Note the possible sexual innuendo captured in the seemingly phallic "fine point of seldom pleasure," the penetration of a key into a lock, and the "unfolding ... pride." Also note that the word "had" (line 14) is found elsewhere in the sonnets referring to sex, cf. "Past reason hunted, and no sooner had . . . Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme" (sonnet 129). Such are the clues that have led some scholars to the idea that sonnet 52 is in fact a revelation of the poet's having been sexually attracted to the fair lord.


ets Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 52 - "So am I as the rich, whose blessed key"
Buy Study Guide
What's he saying?

"So am I as the rich, whose blessed key / Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure,"

I am like a rich person whose wonderful key can open up his dear, locked-up treasure,

"The which he will not every hour survey / For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure."

Which he will not visit too often for fear of dulling the excitement of experiencing a rare pleasure.

"Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare / Since, seldom coming, in the long year set,"

That is why feasts are so special and rare, for they occur so seldom throughout the year,

"Like stones of worth they thinly placed are / Or captain jewels in the carcanet."

Sparsely placed like precious stones, or like the largest gems in a jeweled necklace.

"So is the time that keeps you as my chest / Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide,"

Similarly, time (or memory) keeps you like my treasure chest, or like a wardrobe hides the robe within,

"To make some special instant special blest / By new unfolding his imprison'd pride."

Awaiting some special occasion to be brought out, to uncover the pride that has been imprisoned.

"Blessed are you, whose worthiness gives scope / Being had, to triumph, being lack'd, to hope."

You are blessed, you whose worthiness gives measure; to have had you is to triumph, to lack you is at least to hope.



Sonnet 52 is wild, hotly contested among scholars for its (possible) abundance of sexual innuendo. It also can be argued that because sonnet 52 comes later in the sequence than sonnet 20, sonnet 52 represents a later stage or evolution of the poet's desires - but arguments based purely on the sonnets' ordering are shaky at best, since some scholars believe that the ordering of the sonnets does not conform to any actual chronology of events.

In sonnet 52 the poet describes the fair lord as a locked-up treasure, a solemn feast, a robe for a special occasion - something special and beautiful and blessed, as only something so rare can be. The language of the sonnet is overtly laudatory and also rationalizing, as it attempts to justify the narrator's separation from the fair lord or the infrequency of his being able to delight in him. As though only permissible on special occasions, the robe is awaiting its chance to come out of the closet, "To make some special instant special blest / By new unfolding his imprison'd pride."

Note the possible sexual innuendo captured in the seemingly phallic "fine point of seldom pleasure," the penetration of a key into a lock, and the "unfolding ... pride." Also note that the word "had" (line 14) is found elsewhere in the sonnets referring to sex, cf. "Past reason hunted, and no sooner had . . . Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme" (sonnet 129). Such are the clues that have led some scholars to the idea that sonnet 52 is in fact a revelation of the poet's having been sexually attracted to the fair lord.

But did Shakespeare really intend for this sonnet to be read as replete with sexual innuendo? Or is it just readers with a modern way of thinking who are taken aback by its amorous language and led to draw conclusions that are merely the products of our own imagination? These questions apply not only to sonnet 52 but also to the sonnets as a whole; however, in sonnet 52 the language seems to cross the line, warranting some attempt at explanation.


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Full Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 30 - "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought"

Full Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 30 - "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought"



Sonnet 30 is at the center of a sequence of sonnets dealing with the narrator's growing attachment to the fair lord and the narrator's paralyzing inability to function without him. The sonnet begins with the image of the poet drifting off into the "remembrance of things past" - painful memories, we soon learn, that the poet has already lamented but now must lament anew. The fair lord enters the scene only in the sonnet's closing couplet, where he is presented as a panacea for the poet's emotional distress.

Closely mirroring the message of sonnet 29, here Shakespeare cleverly heightens the expression of his overwhelming anxiety by belaboring the theme of emotional dependence. Whereas in sonnet 29 he quits his whining after the second quatrain, in sonnet 30 three full quatrains are devoted to the narrator's grief, suggesting that his dependence on the fair lord is increasing. Meanwhile sonnet 30's closing couplet reiterates lines 9-14 of sonnet 29 in compact form, emphasizing that the fair lord is a necessity for the poet's emotional well-being: the fair lord is the only thing that can bring the poet happiness.

This pinnacle of the poet's plaintive state is beautifully conveyed through an artful use of repetition and internal rhyme. Beyond the obvious alliteration of "sessions of sweet silent thought," note the "-nce" assonance of "remembrance" and "grievances," to which may be added "since" and "cancell'd"; the correspondence of "sigh," "sought," and "sight"; and the rhyme in "foregone," "fore-bemoaned," "before," and "restored." It is as though the poet wishes to hammer in his hardship with the repetitive droning of his troubled soul.

Beyond its poetics, sonnet 30 also provides some prime examples of the poet's recurring tendency to describe his relationship with the fair lord in financial terms. The opening lines of the sonnet remind us of being called to court (cf. "court sessions" and "summon a witness"). This is followed by a slew of money-related terms, including "expense," "grievances," "account," "paid," and "losses." The phrase "tell o'er" in line 10 is an accounting expression (cf. the modern bank teller) and conjures up an image of the narrator reconciling a balance sheet of his former woes and likening them to debts that he can never pay off in full. The only cure for his financial hardship is the fair lord's patronage - perhaps something to be taken literally, suggesting that the fair lord is in fact the poet's real-world financial benefactor.
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Analysis of Sonnet 20 "A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted

Full Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 20 - "A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted


"A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted / Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;"

Nature painted you with the face of a woman, you master and mistress of my passion;

"A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted / With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;"

You have the gentle heart of a woman, yet you are not fickle like so many changeable women;

"An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling / Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;"

Your eyes are brighter than women's, but not as deceptive as theirs; you shed golden light upon any object you gaze upon;

"A man in hue, all 'hues' in his controlling / Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth."

A man of your appearance sets the standard for what a man should look like; your beauty attracts the eyes of men and amazes the souls of women.

"And for a woman wert thou first created; / Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,"

And you were first created to be a woman, but Nature fell in love with you (or made a mistake) as she was crafting you,

"And by addition me of thee defeated / By adding one thing to my purpose nothing."

And defeated me by adding one thing to you, a thing that does not aid my goal.

"But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure / Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure."

But since she chose you to be for women's pleasure, your love will be mine, yet the use of your love is for women's benefit.



is almost as though the narrator is saying all this with the ulterior motive of justifying his own attraction to the fair lord. Scholars are divided over what this attraction really equates to, but the prevailing view is that although the attraction is certainly present, this does not necessarily imply that it is sexual. In lines 11-12, for example, the poet explicitly bemoans the fact that the fair lord was created as a man, but at the same time he explicitly denies any interest in the fair lord's genitalia: "And by addition me of thee defeated / By adding one thing to my purpose nothing." That "thing" is presumably the fair lord's penis, following common Shakespearean wordplay.

In the sonnet's closing couplet - tying in with the theme of platonic love vs. carnal lust - the poet concedes that the fair lord's love can belong to him even as the use of his love (that is, the sexual act) remains for the ladies. Note the poet's pun on the word "prick" in line 13: as a verb it can mean "to choose," while as a noun it can be a vulgar term for "penis." Finally, note that sonnet 20 is the only of Shakespeare's sonnets to use exclusively feminine rhyme - that is, end rhymes of at least two syllables with the final syllable unstressed - perhaps a deliberate attempt to further feminize the fair lord.

For a good example of the kind of creativity used by interpreters of the sonnets, let us consider the position held by some scholars that the poet intentionally encrypted the actual name of the fair lord into the lines of sonnet 20. Support for this hypothesis comes from the fact that the letters HEWS (with U at times in place of W) appear in every line in the sonnet but one; also note the "hue" and "hues" in line 7 (this second instance italicized in the Quarto), and the assonating "use" in line 14. Some take this as evidence for a Mr. Hughes as the true identity of the fair lord. Others see the letters as the poet's initials (WS) plus the first two letters of either Henry or Herbert (HE), possibly resorting to these names since the first letter of William or Wriothesley was already being used. One might even go so far as to claim that Shakespeare's use of the word "wrought" in line 10 was a deliberate alliterative reference to Wriothesley, or that the poet numbered the sonnet in accordance with the fair lord's age (Herbert would have turned 20 in 1600, Wriothesley in 1593). Obviously such interpretation is highly speculative and must remain inconclusive without corroborating historical evidence. But readers can enjoy wondering whether any of these ideas is true.

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Full poem analysis of Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? sonnet18

Full Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 18 - "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" Shakespeare's Sonnets


Summary and Analysis of Sonnet 18 - "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"


"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate:"

What if I were to compare you to a summer day? You are lovelier and more temperate (the perfect temperature):

"Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May / And summer's lease hath all too short a date:"

Summer's beauty is fragile and can be shaken, and summertime fades away all too quickly:

"Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines / And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;"
Sometimes the sun is far too hot, and often it is too cool, dimmed by clouds and shade;

"And every fair from fair sometime declines / By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;"

And everything that is beautiful eventually loses its beauty, whether by chance or by the uncontrollable course of nature;

"But thy eternal summer shall not fade / Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;"

But your eternal beauty (or youth) will not fade, nor will your beauty by lost;

"Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade / When in eternal lines to time thou growest:"

Nor will Death boast that you wander in his shadow, since you shall grow with time through these sonnets:

"So long as men can breathe or eyes can see / So long lives this and this gives life to thee."

For as long as people can breathe and see, this sonnet will live on, and you (and your beauty) with it.

Why is he saying it?

Sonnet 18 is arguably the most famous of the sonnets, its opening line competitive with "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" in the long list of Shakespeare's quotable quotations. The gender of the addressee is not explicit, but this is the first sonnet after the so-called "procreation sonnets" (sonnets 1-17), i.e., it apparently marks the place where the poet has abandoned his earlier push to persuade the fair lord to have a child. The first two quatrains focus on the fair lord's beauty: the poet attempts to compare it to a summer's day, but shows that there can be no such comparison, since the fair lord's timeless beauty far surpasses that of the fleeting, inconstant season.

Here the theme of the ravages of time again predominates; we see it especially in line 7, where the poet speaks of the inevitable mortality of beauty: "And every fair from fair sometime declines." But the fair lord's is of another sort, for it "shall not fade" - the poet is eternalizing the fair lord's beauty in his verse, in these "eternal lines." Note the financial imagery ("summer's lease") and the use of anaphora (the repetition of opening words) in lines 6-7, 10-11, and 13-14. Also note that May (line 3) was an early summer month in Shakespeare's time, because England did not adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752.
The poet describes summer as a season of extremes and disappointments. He begins in lines 3-4, where "rough winds" are an unwelcome extreme and the shortness of summer is its disappointment. He continues in lines 5-6, where he lingers on the imperfections of the summer sun. Here again we find an extreme and a disappointment: the sun is sometimes far too hot, while at other times its "gold complexion" is dimmed by passing clouds. These imperfections contrast sharply with the poet's description of the fair lord, who is "more temperate" (not extreme) and whose "eternal summer shall not fade" (i.e., will not become a disappointment) thanks to what the poet proposes in line 12.

In line 12 we find the poet's solution - how he intends to eternalize the fair lord's beauty despite his refusal to have a child. The poet plans to capture the fair lord's beauty in his verse ("eternal lines"), which he believes will withstand the ravages of time. Thereby the fair lord's "eternal summer shall not fade," and the poet will have gotten his wish. Here we see the poet's use of "summer" as a metaphor for youth, or perhaps beauty, or perhaps the beauty of youth



But has the poet really abandoned the idea of encouraging the fair lord to have a child? Some scholars suggest that the "eternal lines" in line 12 have a double meaning: the fair lord's beauty can live on not only in the written lines of the poet's verse but also in the family lines of the fair lord's progeny. Such an interpretation would echo the sentiment of the preceding sonnet's closing couplet: "But were some child of yours alive that time / You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme." The use of "growest" also implies an increasing or changing: we can envision the fair lord's family lines growing over time, yet this image is not as readily applicable to the lines of the poet's verse - unless it refers only to his intention to continue writing about the fair lord's beauty, his verse thereby "growing." On the other hand, line 14 seems to counter this interpretation, the singular "this" (as opposed to "these") having as its most likely antecedent the poet's verse, and nothing more.
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Full anaysis and summary From fairest creatures we desire increase Sonnet1

Full anaysis and summary of Sonnet 1 - "From fairest creatures we desire increase"


From fairest creatures we desire increase / That thereby beauty's rose might never die,"

We want the best-looking people to have children so that their beauty can be appreciated by future generations,

"But as the riper should by time decease / His tender heir might bear his memory:"

For once the elder has passed away, his young will share the memory of his ancestor's beauty (and may look like the elder):

"But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes / Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,"

But you, obsessed with your own beauty, selfishly consume all of that beauty's light,

"Making a famine where abundance lies / Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:"

Depriving the world of that beauty when there is plenty to be had by all; you are your own enemy, you are cruel to your own sweet self, for not having a child to carry on your memory.

"Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament / And only herald to the gaudy spring,"

You who are now a beautiful thing on earth, and the one who announces the coming of spring,

"Within thine own bud buriest thy content / And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:"

Are burying your self-satisfied beauty within yourself, and wasting it by being selfish.

"Pity the world, or else this glutton be / To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee."

Have pity on the world and bear a child; otherwise you are a glutton, keeping your beauty to yourself by taking it with you to the grave.




in these sonnets the poet pleads with the fair lord, begging him to have a child so that his beauty may be passed on for future generations. This mini-theme of procreation continues until sonnet 18, whereupon the poet seemingly abandons it in favor of a new course. From then on the poet seeks to eternalize the fair lord's beauty in the lines of his verse, a plan he foreshadows in some preceding sonnets, e.g., "But were some child of yours alive that time / You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme" (sonnet 17)

the poet appears infatuated with the fair lord's beauty, as the fair lord is infatuated with it himself. Knowing that Shakespeare often drew on Greek and Latin myth and legend in his works, we see a possible allusion to the story of Narcissus in the fair lord's obsession with his own appearance. The fair lord seems not only obsessed with his own beauty but also immoderately selfish with it - at least in the eyes of the poet. The selfishness of the fair lord with respect to his beauty is alluded to elsewhere in the procreation sequence, e.g., "Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend / Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?" (sonnet 4).



a possible homoerotic undertone (a man's appreciation of another man's beauty), the imagery of financial bondage (as in "contracted"), and the theme of selfishness and greed embodied in the fair lord's unwillingness to eternalize his beauty himself, thereby "making a famine where abundance lies." In fact, the sonnet as a whole can be encapsulated under the theme of the ravages of time, as a one-line summary of its content might be made thus: "Have a child now, beautiful man, because the clock is ticking; don't be selfish."


n line 11, the word "content" could have two very different meanings depending on the position of the stress. If we follow the iambic rhythm, the stress falls on the second syllable, giving the word the meaning of "happiness" or "pleasure," i.e. "you are burying your happiness within yourself." However, some scholars have suggested that the poet is actually making a pun, with the alternate meaning of "content" (stress on the first syllable) a reference to the fair lord's content, his beauty (or even semen: the fair lord is keeping it all to himself, thereby wasting it). It is clear that the poet was very deliberate in his choice of words - his sonnets and plays show numerous other examples of similarly subtle and bawdy puns - so such speculation may seem more reasonable as one becomes more familiar with the sonnets and Shakespeare's work as a whole.



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Full anaysis and summary of Sonnet 1 - "From fairest creatures we desire increase"

Full anaysis and summary of Sonnet 1 - "From fairest creatures we desire increase"


From fairest creatures we desire increase / That thereby beauty's rose might never die,"

We want the best-looking people to have children so that their beauty can be appreciated by future generations,

"But as the riper should by time decease / His tender heir might bear his memory:"

For once the elder has passed away, his young will share the memory of his ancestor's beauty (and may look like the elder):

"But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes / Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,"

But you, obsessed with your own beauty, selfishly consume all of that beauty's light,

"Making a famine where abundance lies / Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:"

Depriving the world of that beauty when there is plenty to be had by all; you are your own enemy, you are cruel to your own sweet self, for not having a child to carry on your memory.

"Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament / And only herald to the gaudy spring,"

You who are now a beautiful thing on earth, and the one who announces the coming of spring,

"Within thine own bud buriest thy content / And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:"

Are burying your self-satisfied beauty within yourself, and wasting it by being selfish.

"Pity the world, or else this glutton be / To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee."

Have pity on the world and bear a child; otherwise you are a glutton, keeping your beauty to yourself by taking it with you to the grave.




in these sonnets the poet pleads with the fair lord, begging him to have a child so that his beauty may be passed on for future generations. This mini-theme of procreation continues until sonnet 18, whereupon the poet seemingly abandons it in favor of a new course. From then on the poet seeks to eternalize the fair lord's beauty in the lines of his verse, a plan he foreshadows in some preceding sonnets, e.g., "But were some child of yours alive that time / You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme" (sonnet 17)

the poet appears infatuated with the fair lord's beauty, as the fair lord is infatuated with it himself. Knowing that Shakespeare often drew on Greek and Latin myth and legend in his works, we see a possible allusion to the story of Narcissus in the fair lord's obsession with his own appearance. The fair lord seems not only obsessed with his own beauty but also immoderately selfish with it - at least in the eyes of the poet. The selfishness of the fair lord with respect to his beauty is alluded to elsewhere in the procreation sequence, e.g., "Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend / Upon thyself thy beauty's legacy?" (sonnet 4).



a possible homoerotic undertone (a man's appreciation of another man's beauty), the imagery of financial bondage (as in "contracted"), and the theme of selfishness and greed embodied in the fair lord's unwillingness to eternalize his beauty himself, thereby "making a famine where abundance lies." In fact, the sonnet as a whole can be encapsulated under the theme of the ravages of time, as a one-line summary of its content might be made thus: "Have a child now, beautiful man, because the clock is ticking; don't be selfish."


n line 11, the word "content" could have two very different meanings depending on the position of the stress. If we follow the iambic rhythm, the stress falls on the second syllable, giving the word the meaning of "happiness" or "pleasure," i.e. "you are burying your happiness within yourself." However, some scholars have suggested that the poet is actually making a pun, with the alternate meaning of "content" (stress on the first syllable) a reference to the fair lord's content, his beauty (or even semen: the fair lord is keeping it all to himself, thereby wasting it). It is clear that the poet was very deliberate in his choice of words - his sonnets and plays show numerous other examples of similarly subtle and bawdy puns - so such speculation may seem more reasonable as one becomes more familiar with the sonnets and Shakespeare's work as a whole.



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