An Analysis of Sonnet 29, Shakespeare 2

Updated on October 5, 2017

What is Love?

The classical Greeks, in their time, qualified love into four and more distinct categories: agape, eros, philia, and storge. Translated, and in order, the first means love of God; romantic love of a lover; love of friend; parental love. During the initial 126 Sonnets, Shakespeare sings in verse for a young fellow man. While Sonnet 29 partakes of the male-youth series, I would like to challenge you to consider which Greek love Shakespeare is calling on among the four. And notwithstanding let us begin where we previously departed upon the eighth line of Sonnet 29 of William Shakespeare. (If you've missed part one of the Analysis, and would like to start from start, please click here).

Supplementary

(For the purposes of our Analysis, you may be interested in a full text of Sonnet 29. The script at Sparknotes is handy dandy, providing the archaic Elizabethan version alongside a modern English rendition. Click here to view the material to follow beside.

If you are instead interested in the structure and formulaic elements of the Shakespearean sonnet or poems generically, click here to view the first part of our Analysis. With that said, please enjoy the words of Shakespeare as he also considers love.)

Line Eight

With what I most enjoy contented least;

You may well know that in a Shakespearean sonnet the poet has a mere ten syllables to form a line with. Each sound and word must be of significant import and contribute to the theme or narrative of the sonnet. In line eight, there is no exception as the speaker culminates what prior expressed self-abasement into a single succinct phrase. That, in spite of any, all, and what material acquisition, the speaker is lost in woe great woe and tragedy. Former lines mention of envy and more, deep admiration, of others—friends, talent, security—challenges the status quo and the already-acceptable accommodations the speaker maintains (“With what I most enjoy”). A poignant keener insight reads that the speaker, loving and greatest enjoying poetry, is no longer even “contented” with its prospects. One comes to grasp the experience of utter doom when poetry itself, Shakespeare posits, is removed of its joy and refuge into death: only accentuated through the speaker’s willingness to create the Sonnet 29 regardless.

Line Nine

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

The line nine issues a sudden—quite abrupt—change of tone and pace indicated under “Yet”. The most fascinating word in this line is “thoughts” since to our perspective, they are not “thoughts”. They are words and sentences, verses or lines, and then two revelations are discovered: we the audience are inside the speaker’s head the entirety of time, scrutinizing thoughts; and something of Shakespeare is as well revealed. Poetry, to him, would appear to be a method of communication and congregation—within our minds—of each other’s different and strange worlds. In other words, a meeting of thoughts merging cohesively together for a true rebirth or affirmation of opinion. In the latter part of the line, the final word “despising” is powerful, a seeming term for suicide. To “almost” despise is to stay the speaker’s hand but to completely despise—then it is not far-fetched to value suicide in face of consummate self hate. Although the speaker nearly despises self, something “[y]et” motivates onward and truly gives purpose.

Line Ten

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

It is at last on line ten is the speaker’s lover finally introduced. It is here the repetition of “thought[s]” from the earlier ninth line is superseded with the present form: “think” (haply means fortuitously or luckily). As Shakespeare in line nine upholds, thoughts constitute poetry’s formation; thence the tenth line possesses an alternative read, that is, “Haply I write [on thee]” or “Haply I sing sonnets about thee.” The speaker follows up with “and then my state”, recalling far back to the second line where “my outcast state” was distinctive. However, this latter portion of line ten indicates an upcoming alteration: “then” conceives perhaps a shift in time whereas “[h]aply” thinking “on thee” promotes the sense of revival and renewal during this time. Concisely, line ten may be summarized in the speaker writing for the lover and, when the speaker does, a profound wave washes over and begins to amend the “outcast state”. Whenever I write poems for you, I encounter joy and all worldly covet removed

Line Eleven

Like to the lark at break of day arising

Line eleven operates entirely with similes, comparing the speaker’s new revival or resurrection state to a lark (Old World songbird) singing singing on the dawning day. A lark typically symbolizes the morning, the sunrise, a device pioneered by Shakespeare also in Romeo and Juliet: “It was the lark, the herald of the morn…” (III.v.6). In the play, the lark assisted Romeo’s leave from Juliet and his escape from Verona; in clear contrast to the revivalist spirit of Sonnet 29. The definite article preceding lark showers an image of some magnificence, declaring it was the lark not a lark that breaks the day into light. The final word “arising” proves all the more an insistence of the speaker’s awakening and restoration; the concept stemming from line ten’s joy of writing poems on love and “on thee”. And “arising” must have the lark, enormously likened to the speaker, arising from someplace where break of day never shines, or the night. The speaker arises “[l]ike to the lark” at daybreak from the dark oppressive night and evening—a metaphor for despair.

Line Twelve

From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate.

In poetry, a particular principle takes root in the twelfth line of Sonnet 29: enjambment. The eleventh line was incomplete, although seemingly concluded, by the starting word “From” in this line twelve, that intends an extension of the eleventh. From the previous line to the posterior twelfth line, enjambment essentially comprises of the continuation of "thought"—as Shakespeare discloses—between two lines, with the first line bearing a cliffhanger-esque last word (“arising” in line eleven). Instead of the direct analogy of night implied before, the phrase “sullen earth” is drawn, a kind symbol for death and the grave through the bleak adjective “sullen”. Emphasis is again on the resurrection strength of the speaker from the world, to now even farther, to high heaven itself. The speaker has traversed death into a sublime region few may envision; nevertheless a romantic artifice is devised, resounding alive at the statement “heaven’s gate”. The gate is not opened nor entered, suggesting the speaker wishes to remain in the world than divine heaven despite “my outcast state”, “curs[ing] my fate”, and “in disgrace”. For why? For one dear and beloved later seen.

Line Thirteen

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

The penultimate line of Sonnet 29 signifies at length the blatant admission of love for the speaker’s lover; and it is no more evident in the first several rousing words. Immediately “For” denotes a structural composition following the pattern of a situation-cause clause or the circumstances-because pattern—albeit Shakespeare inverses the order and displaces the cause or because to the beginning, as the speaker remembers love which engenders something revealed in the fourteenth line. On the other hand, the thirteenth line solidifies the more reflective, abstract, premise of the twelfth, centering on the word “remembered”. The origin of the speaker to delay entry into heaven is herein defined: since your “sweet love” was “remembered” that I judge not the pleasures of heaven above the pleasures of you. When I die of grief or despair or total torment, I do not die and do not intrude in heaven. Rather, “[l]ike to the lark...arising”, I remember and I am rejuvenated to behold again your “sweet love”. Not death do us ever part.

Line Fourteen

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Shakespeare’s ultimate line in his Sonnet 29 proceeds forth from the patterned thirteenth line. Shakespearean sonnets always resolve in the final two rhyming lines, known together as rhyming couplets. The end rhyme of the formerly “brings” shall align with “kings” in this line, a grand close to the enormous efforts of any poet to rhyme and meter-ize a Shakespearean sonnet. Although “That” as the first word does not account for much, it does achieve the meter requirement of an unaccented syllable. The second word, “then”, satisfies the situation-cause clause in the thirteenth line and celebrates the expectation of the mind in fulfillment of it. One critical element in the fourteenth is the discovery of the speaker: the finding of a greater and stronger resurrected person than the world and friends and art and kings. An etymology dictionary places the verb “scorn” as derived from the French escarn of mockery and contempt1. What the speaker once pleaded for, was “in disgrace” for, “[w]ishing” and “[d]esiring” for—even “to change” earthly stations “with kings”—is not any more relevant and mocked. The speaker remembers the lover’s love and emerges instead glorious.

How did the speaker originally arrive under such a restoration? The tenth line bears answer: “I think on thee” and I write sonnet for thee, for thee and I immemorial. Yours is the sweeter love than heaven, and I arise “like to the lark” to witness true human splendor. What song!

Next time, we will examine another poem—of your choice! Well, I cull a selection of three pieces and conduct a poll to determine our next poem. These poems that rather resonate to my being, so I have chosen. But, if you have an alternate suggestion, please let me see it in the comments!

Thanks for joining me, hope to see you then!

*

Our Next Poem

Which poem would you like to see analyzed next?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)