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A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 47: ‘Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took’

A summary of Shakespeare’s 47th sonnet

‘Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took’: in Sonnet 47, Shakespeare concludes his pair of sonnets about the ‘war’ between his eye and his heart, that had been introduced in the previous sonnet. In Sonnet 47, the war has ended in a truce, and Shakespeare’s eye and heart now live in ‘league’ with each other, doing good turns for the other. This turnaround is going to require a little closer analysis:

Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took,
And each doth good turns now unto the other:
When that mine eye is famish’d for a look,
Or heart in love with sighs himself doth smother,
With my love’s picture then my eye doth feast,
And to the painted banquet bids my heart;
Another time mine eye is my heart’s guest,
And in his thoughts of love doth share a part:
So, either by thy picture or my love,
Thy self away, art present still with me;
For thou not farther than my thoughts canst move,
And I am still with them, and they with thee; Read the rest of this entry


A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 46: ‘Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war’

A summary of Shakespeare’s 46th sonnet

Shakespeare and the number 46 have a curious relationship. The theory that the Bard translated the 46th Psalm in the King James Version of the Bible (because Shakespeare would have been 46 when work on the translation was nearing its completion, and the 46th word of the psalm is ‘shake’, and the 46th word from the end is ‘spear’) persists; but what about his 46th sonnet?

Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war,
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye my heart thy picture’s sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right.
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie,
A closet never pierced with crystal eyes,
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To ’cide this title is impannelled
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart;
And by their verdict is determined
The clear eye’s moiety, and the dear heart’s part: Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 45: ‘The other two, slight air and purging fire’

A summary of Shakespeare’s 45th sonnet

As the opening line of this poem, ‘The other two, slight air and purging fire’, makes clear, Sonnet 45 is very much the companion-piece to Sonnet 44, which had pondered Shakespeare’s separation from the Fair Youth by drawing on two of the four classical elements, earth and water. In Sonnet 45, he turns to ‘the other two’, air and fire:

The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These present-absent with swift motion slide.
For when these quicker elements are gone
In tender embassy of love to thee,
My life, being made of four, with two alone
Sinks down to death, oppressed with melancholy;
Until life’s composition be recured
By those swift messengers return’d from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assured
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me: Read the rest of this entry