Shakespeare  – Sonnet 29

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(440 words)

In this piece, I will give a brief appreciation of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, number 29. Here the sonnet encapsulates the mood of a depressive man trying to deal with his thoughts though it also indicates a mood change to love as a consolation. 

The poem begins with a speaker who is lost in himself. He looks out to the world as if he is falling behind with his ambitions as a man. He has become very introverted while thinking that everyone has left him alone. The first line shows this with the “disgrace” he feels while using “men’s eyes” to show he thinks people are questioning him. As an ‘outcast’, the poem implies he is hopeless. The strength of the sonnet is shown by the first eight lines where the reader is drawn into this man’s despair. The use of the phrase “curse my fate” gives the reader a feeling of sorrow for this man who has lost faith in himself. There is a suggestion he has suffered from despair and anxiety.

Lines 9 to 12 lead the reader to the speaker’s mentality. Though the speaker almost considers himself to be despicable for being cast down as in “despising” of himself, he is looking at his point of view as if he is telling himself subconsciously to look at these negative words with a different perspective to open his considerations. This takes the reader away from the low feelings the speaker had. The speaker now thinks of the love of his life where he uses the word “haply”. This change of thought can be used as his way of bringing himself away from the despair he had for himself. The reader can feel the speaker’s mind start to turn. There is some comfort when he “think of thee”, the absent lover.

Moreover, the metaphor “(Like to the lark at break of day arising From sullen earth)” rebounds against what the speaker has said. This is where Shakespeare’s sonnet shows great deliverance. From a desperate moment to the desire of his “sweet love” shows his mood swing. The final two lines which use the words “sweet love” and “such wealth” show the speaker’s change in feeling and his brighter outlook. There is a definite transformation in the speaker’s frame of mind.

This sonnet could appeal to most people as a universal declaration with this contrast of dark thoughts through to where Shakespeare calls attention to noble emotion encapsulated with his last words “change my state with kings” to drive the despondency away. The anonymous Renaissance London lover has addressed the person he loves. There is a power of true love.

Shakespeare’s 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,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,

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.

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