William Shakespeare's sonnets
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• SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS, or simply The Sonnets, is a
collection of poems in sonnet form written by William
Shakespeare that deal with such themes as love, beauty,
politics, and mortality. They were probably written over a
period of several years. All 154 poems appeared in a 1609
collection, comprising 152 previously unpublished sonnets and
two poems, numbers 138 ("When my love swears that she is
made of truth") and 144 ("Two loves have I, of comfort and
despair"), that had previously been published in a 1599
miscellany entitled The Passionate Pilgrim.
• The sonnets are each constructed from three four-line stanzas (called
quatrains) and a final couplet composed in iambic pentameter ( a
meter used extensively in Shakespeare's plays) with the rhyme schem
abab cdcd efef gg (this form is now known as the Shakespearean
sonnet). The only exceptions are Sonnets 99, 126, and 145. Number
99 has fifteen lines. Number 126 consists of six couplets, and two
blank lines marked with italic brackets; 145 is in iambic tetrameters,
not pentameters. Often, the beginning of the third quatrain marks the
"turn", or the line in which the mood of the poem shifts, and the poet
expresses a revelation or epiphany. This is sometimes known as the
3 quatrains and 1 couplet
iambic pentameter
• We can notate this with a 'x' mark representing
an unstressed syllable and a '/' mark
representing a stressed syllable. In this
notation a line of iambic pentameter would
look like this:
• x/x/x/x/x/
• Pentameter: penta- =five, meter=a part
• a. A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of
the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as
represented by the Magi.
• b. January 6, on which this feast is traditionally
• 2. A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
• 3. a. A sudden manifestation of the essence or
meaning of something.
• b. A comprehension or perception of reality by means
of a sudden intuitive realization
• From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.
Thou-Thy-Thee = You-Your-You
I=the speaker, the poet
Thou= ________________
He =____________
Increase ↔ _____________
Beauty ↔ _____________
Riper ↔ _____________
Abundance ↔ _____________
Life, creatures, ______________, grave
Bright, light ______________
Famine, eat, __________
Ornament, _____________
Thy self thy foe?
• Underling all words related to “thou.”
• Why self-substantial?
• Thy sweet self?
The appellation: tender churl
• A rude, boorish person.
• A miserly person.
• About the word history:
• Why does the poet (the addresser) call the
addressee “tender churl?”
The conclusive couplet
• What is the message from the conclusive
• When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
• Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair some time declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
• As an unperfect actor on the stage,
Who with his fear is put beside his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'ercharg'd with burthen of mine own love's might.
O! let my looks be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more express'd.
O! learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.
Listening practice
• Available in the following web pages:
• http://elearning.lib.ntu.edu.tw/shakespeare/index.htm

William Shakespeare's sonnets