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:

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