Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Shakespeare Blogging - Sonnet 116

Oh, bard immortal! Everything I needed to learn in life I learned from the pen of William Shakespeare. Except for those things I needed to experience in life to gain a bit of wisdom, of course. It is fitting to start out this segment of Shakespeare Blogging with one of my favorite sonnets, Sonnet 116.

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
So what is Shakespeare saying here? The theme of this sonnet is about ideal love, at least on the surface. The imagery is "ever fixed" and unwavering. Metaphors of sea travel abound. Consider the "ever fixed mark," a permanent navigation point before lighthouses, and the "star to every wandering bark." He's referring to the North Star, which is constant in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere, and the "wandering bark" is a wayward vessel. The first line, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds, Admit impediments," to me, speaks of an idealistic, agape (spiritual, not sexual) love. Perhaps a forbidden love, one that is restricted from marriage by law (Shakespeare wrote this sonnet for a man). He's writing about a love so strong it survives temptation. When he writes, "Love's not Time's fool, through rosy lips and cheeks, Within his bending sickle's compass come," he's telling us that love trumps time, even as time weakens us and changes us at the core of ourselves. Time is fleeting, but true love endures. It is about an ideal love that conquers all, but the irony is in the fact that even though nothing is ideal or perfect, it is still worth striving for because the beauty is in the challenge of love prevailing over time.
So what say you? Comments welcome!


Anonymous sister of ye said...

Vickie, if you haven't run across it, search Amazon for a book called "Twisted Tales of Shakespeare" by Richard Armour. It has long been out of print. I really wish they'd reissue it.

It's a send-up of an English lit text and covers Shakespeare's life, six plays, the sonnets and the "real" Shakespeare.

The dedication starts out: "To the memory of Shakespeare, which was certainly better than mine," and the book continues in that vein. I suspect, being an Atriot, you'll find it as funny as I do.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Sister of Ye ~

Will do! Thanks!

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Barndog said...

You sure it wasn't 'Stoner Hall'???

I think it was.


4:32 PM  

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