A summary and paraphrase of Shakespeare’s 40th sonnet
Of all Shakespeare’s Sonnets, Sonnet 40 is perhaps the most relentlessly focused on ‘love’: the word itself recurs ten times in the sonnet’s fourteen lines, including twice in the poem’s opening line: ‘Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all’. In the following analysis, we’re going to examine how Shakespeare’s relationship with the Fair Youth has changed by the 40th sonnet in the sequence.
Take all my loves, my love, yea take them all;
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call;
All mine was thine, before thou hadst this more.
Then, if for my love, thou my love receivest,
I cannot blame thee, for my love thou usest;
But yet be blam’d, if thou thy self deceivest
By wilful taste of what thyself refusest.
I do forgive thy robbery, gentle thief,
Although thou steal thee all my poverty:
And yet, love knows it is a greater grief
To bear love’s wrong, than hate’s known injury.
Lascivious grace, in whom all ill well shows,
Kill me with spites yet we must not be foes. Read the rest of this entry
The meaning of a classic fairy tale
Child abandonment, poverty, gingerbread houses, and an enterprising hero: the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel has it all. It arguably has one of the most satisfying plot structures of all the fairy tales. Yet as with the other fairy tales we’ve discussed in previous posts, such as the 4,000-year-old tale of Rumpelstiltskin, a number of the plot features of ‘Hansel and Gretel’, and the evolution of the fairy tale, are more complicated than we might remember from the nursery. And a summary and analysis of ‘Hansel and Gretel’ throws up some interesting details concerning the story’s plot and meaning.
One of the most familiar parts of the story is undoubtedly the gingerbread house. But the most familiar version of the tale, namely that by the Brothers Grimm, published in 1812, is ambiguous on this point: they mention bread and cakes, but the bread may well be savoury rather than sweet. Not that this makes much difference to the titular children, who begin devouring the house all the same. Read the rest of this entry
The origins of a classic children’s rhyme
‘Jack and Jill went up the hill’: we all know these words that call back our early childhoods so vividly, yet where did they come from and what does this rhyme mean? It can be dangerous to try to probe or analyse the meaning of nursery rhymes too deeply – much like analysing the nonsense verse of Edward Lear or Lewis Carroll, we are likely to come upon a hermeneutic dead-end. But ‘Jack and Jill’ is so well-known that a closer look at its meaning and origins seems justified.
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water;
Jack fell down and broke his crown,
And Jill came tumbling after.
Up Jack got, and home did trot,
As fast as he could caper,
To old Dame Dob, who patched his nob
With vinegar and brown paper. Read the rest of this entry