A summary of Shakespeare’s 41st sonnet
As opening lines go, ‘Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits’ is not up there with some of the opening lines that we’ve had earlier on in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, such as the rightly celebrated opening lines to Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 20. Nevertheless, this poem has some curious features which make it worth closer analysis.
Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits,
When I am sometime absent from thy heart,
Thy beauty, and thy years full well befits,
For still temptation follows where thou art.
Gentle thou art, and therefore to be won,
Beauteous thou art, therefore to be assailed;
And when a woman woos, what woman’s son
Will sourly leave her till he have prevailed?
Ay me! but yet thou mightst my seat forbear,
And chide thy beauty and thy straying youth,
Who lead thee in their riot even there
Where thou art forced to break a twofold truth:
Hers by thy beauty tempting her to thee,
Thine by thy beauty being false to me. Read the rest of this entry
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 Shakespeare’s 39th sonnet
‘O how thy worth with manners may I sing, / When thou art all the better part of me?’ Another exercise in flattery, this, from the Bard: in Sonnet 39 he praises the Fair Youth for being … himself. Or rather, he says that he and the Youth are so close that it feels as if they are one and the same person. These ones and twains require a bit of unpicking and closer analysis – but first, here’s the sonnet.
O how thy worth with manners may I sing,
When thou art all the better part of me?
What can mine own praise to mine own self bring?
And what is’t but mine own when I praise thee?
Even for this, let us divided live,
And our dear love lose name of single one,
That by this separation I may give
That due to thee which thou deserv’st alone.
O absence! what a torment wouldst thou prove,
Were it not thy sour leisure gave sweet leave,
To entertain the time with thoughts of love,
Which time and thoughts so sweetly doth deceive,
And that thou teachest how to make one twain,
By praising him here who doth hence remain. Read the rest of this entry