Shakespearean Sonnets

Whether or not Shakespeare intended to have these two sonnets read together, I cannot say for sure, but as I was writing a short paper on the former poem a few days ago, I noticed a note that suggested it was linked to the latter. Each begins with an expression of sorrow and ends with the exclamation that thinking on a certain “dear friend” dramatically lifts the speaker’s spirits. I’m taking a class called “Shakespeare, Donne and Milton,” and before I start posting raving reviews of Donne’s poetry, I wanted to be sure to include Shakespeare, since we just finished discussing his sonnets and longer poetic pieces. Plus, I thought it might be fun to post the poem that inspired the name of this blog. (Notice the first line of Sonnet 30).

Happy reading 🙂

Sonnets 29 & 30

by William Shakespeare –

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
(Like to the lark at break of day arising)
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.

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