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 of ‘Justus quidem tu es, Domine’
‘Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend’ is the first line of a poem that is variously titled ‘Thou art indeed just, Lord’ or, in Latin, ‘Justus quidem tu es, Domine’. It was written in March 1889, only a few months before Hopkins’s untimely death.
Justus quidem tu es, Domine, si disputem tecum; verumtamen
justa loquar ad te: Quare via impiorum prosperatur? &c.
Thou art indeed just, Lord, if I contend
With thee; but, sir, so what I plead is just.
Why do sinners’ ways prosper? and why must
Disappointment all I endeavour end?
Wert thou my enemy, O thou my friend,
How wouldst thou worse, I wonder, than thou dost
Defeat, thwart me? Oh, the sots and thralls of lust
Do in spare hours more thrive than I that spend, Read the rest of this entry
A reading of a classic Donne poem
‘Oh my black soul’ is one of John Donne’s finest sacred poems. It is also, perhaps, one of the finest and most powerful deathbed poems in all of English literature. But why does it carry such power? A few words of analysis concerning this classic sonnet are included below.
Oh my black Soul! Now thou art summoned
By sickness, death’s herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim, which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turn to whence he is fled,
Or like a thief, which till deaths doom be read,
Wisheth himself deliver’d from prison;
But damn’d and hal’d to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned;
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lack;
But who shall give thee that grace to begin?
Oh make thy self with holy mourning black;
And red with blushing, as thou art with sin;
Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red souls to white. Read the rest of this entry