A summary of an early English sonnet
As we’ve mentioned before, although he gets the credit for it, William Shakespeare didn’t invent the Shakespearean sonnet. That specific poetic form – also known as the English sonnet, and rhyming ababcdcdefefgg – was instead the innovation of a Tudor courtier and poet named Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-47), who, as well as making Shakespeare’s Sonnets possible, also invented the verse form that would make Elizabethan drama possible: blank verse. In short, the Bard had a lot to thank Henry Howard for.
‘Alas, so all things now do hold their peace’ is one of Henry Howard’s finest sonnets written in the new rhyme scheme he created. The poem is included below with modernised spelling, before we proceed to a few words of analysis.
Alas, so all things now do hold their peace,
Heaven and earth disturbèd in no thing;
The beasts, the air, the birds their song do cease,
The nightès car the stars about doth bring;
Calm is the sea; the waves work less and less:
So am not I, whom love alas doth wring,
Bringing before my face the great increase Read the rest of this entry
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