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A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105: ‘Let not my love be called idolatry’

A commentary on Shakespeare’s 105th sonnet

‘Let not my love be called idolatry’, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 105, sees the Bard continue to meditate on the nature of his love for the Fair Youth. Here’s a reminder of Sonnet 105 before we proceed to a commentary on its language and meaning.

Let not my love be called idolatry,
Nor my beloved as an idol show,
Since all alike my songs and praises be
To one, of one, still such, and ever so.
Kind is my love to-day, to-morrow kind,
Still constant in a wondrous excellence;
Therefore my verse to constancy confined,
One thing expressing, leaves out difference.
Fair, kind, and true, is all my argument,
Fair, kind, and true, varying to other words;
And in this change is my invention spent,
Three themes in one, which wondrous scope affords. Read the rest of this entry

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A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 97: ‘How like a winter hath my absence been’

A commentary on Shakespeare’s 97th sonnet

Sonnet 97 has a famous opening line, but the rest of the poem remains less famous. Yet the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Don Paterson have both expressed admiration for it, so the sonnet is worth closer analysis and explication. Before we proceed to a few words of commentary on Sonnet 97, here’s a reminder of the poem.

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!
And yet this time removed was summer’s time;
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,
Like widow’d wombs after their lords’ decease:
Yet this abundant issue seemed to me
But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit;
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute: Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 94: ‘They that have power to hurt’

A commentary on Shakespeare’s 94th sonnet

Considered one of the most challenging and ambiguous of all the Sonnets, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 94, beginning ‘They that have power to hurt, and will do none’, is, for our money, also one of the top five best sonnets in the whole sequence. One scholar and poet, J. H. Prynne, has even written a whole book about this one sonnet. Before we proceed to an analysis of this enigmatic poem, here’s a reminder of Sonnet 94.

They that have power to hurt, and will do none,
That do not do the thing they most do show,
Who, moving others, are themselves as stone,
Unmoved, cold, and to temptation slow;
They rightly do inherit heaven’s graces,
And husband nature’s riches from expense;
They are the lords and owners of their faces,
Others, but stewards of their excellence.
The summer’s flower is to the summer sweet,
Though to itself, it only live and die,
But if that flower with base infection meet,
The basest weed outbraves his dignity: Read the rest of this entry