Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shakespeare: Sonnet 29

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,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, 
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 remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings.


Our speaker kicks things off by telling us that he's feeling  down on his luck. He also uses the word "when," which tells us that he is no stranger to the kind of misfortune he's experiencing right now.Our speaker is "all alone" and bawling his eyes out because he's an outcast. Here, we learn that the speaker thinks God doesn't care about his problems and is completely ignoring  his useless ("bootless") cries.Our speaker is also getting a little snarky—he uses the word "trouble" to imply that his cries are getting on God's nerves.What's interesting is that our speaker doesn't actually use God's name here. When our speaker says he looks upon himselfit seems like a metaphor for self-reflection. (Although, it's also possible that he's literally gazing into a mirror and cursing his bad luck, or "fate.") This tells us that our speaker is pretty introspective and it also reminds us that we are definitely reading a lyric poem. Now, the speaker starts thinking about all the stuff he wishes he had and gets jealous of all the other men around him who have more stuff going for them. When we finally reach the heroic couplet that tops off this sonnet, the speaker  repeats that it's the memory of the addressee's "sweet love" that makes him feel so rich that he wouldn't change places with the most powerful or wealthy guys (kings) in the world. On the other hand, the speaker talks about the addressee's "sweet love" as if it's some kind of religious experience  in lines 10-12. 


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