Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds’ (sonnet 116) by William Shakespeare (1609)
This poem is called ‘let me not to the marriage of true minds’ and it’s written by William Shakespeare. It was first published in 1609. This sonnet is one of Shakespeare’s most famous love sonnets.
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright. He is often called England’s national poet and the ‘Bard of Avon’. His surviving work consists of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, 2 long narrative poems and several other poems, but he is most known for his plays, such as Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth, and for his sonnets. He lived from 1564 until 1616. He was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, but he later moved to London with his wife Anne Hathaway, who was 8 years older than Shakespeare and pregnant when they married. They had three children; Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592 he began a successful career as an actor, writer and part owner of a playing company.
He produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories, but he then started to write tragedies, including plays like Othello and Macbeth, which are considered some of the finest work in English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies (romances) and collaborated with other playwrights. Although he was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, his reputation didn’t rise to its present heights until the 19th century. His work remains highly popular today and he is considered to be the greatest writer in the English language. His plays are translated into every language and are constantly studied and performed.
This sonnet is about love in its most ideal form; never ending, fading or faltering. It attemps to define love, by telling both what it is and what it’s not. In the first line it speaks about ‘marriage of true minds’, which refers to the love between two people who are like-minded rather than to an actual ceremonial marriage. The first quatrain says that true love is unchanging, strong and that is doesn’t change even when though people and circumstances may change. In the second quatrain love is compared to the North Star, which never moves in the sky and guides lost ships home, meaning that true love will survive any crisis.
This metaphorical star is mysterious and incomprehensible, even though we can chart its location. This means that love’s actual worth can’t be known and that even though we may be able to measure love to some degree, we’ll never be able to fully understand it. The third quatrain tells that love isn’t susceptible to time and mortality, even when youth and beauty disappear. It doesn’t change as the days go by, it remains strong until the lovers death. In the last couplet the poet stakes his own reputation on this definition, declaring that if his idea of true love can be proven wrong, he must take back all of his writings. Furthermore, he adds that if he has in fact jugded love inappropiately, than nobody, as far as the poet is concerned, has ever loved at all.
I think the meaning of this poem is that love cannot be true if it can be changed by any reasons. It’s supposed to be constant and not susceptible to time. It doesn’t fade but instead lasts forever.
Personally I really like this poem. He praises lovers who enter a relationship based on understanding and trust between them. I totally agree with this, I think understanding and trusting each other are really one of the most important things in a relationship. Since I haven’t had that much life experience yet, I obviously can’t judge his idea about love, but if I ever truly fall in love, I hope that it’ll be like the way Shakespeare describes it in this sonnet. Also, I think the tone of this sonnet is very honest and passionate, which makes it more relatable. It’s not very complex, but in my opinion a poem doesn’t have to be complex to be good.
This sonnet is particular for the time it was written in. In Elizabethan England—the era during which Shakespeare’s sonnets were written—the sonnet was the form of choice for lyric poets, particularly lyric poets seeking to engage with traditional themes of love and romance. The Shakespearean sonnet, the form of sonnet utilized throughout Shakespeare’s sequence, is divided into four parts. The first three parts are each four lines long, and are known as quatrains, rhymed ABAB; the fourth part is called the couplet, and is rhymed CC. The Shakespearean sonnet is often used to develop a sequence of metaphors or ideas, one in each quatrain, while the couplet offers either a summary or a new take on the preceding images or ideas.
Subject: William Shakespeare,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 30 September 2016
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