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SONNET 116 OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare is one of his 154 sonnets and one among the Fair Youth sequence. Like most other sonnets of Shakespeare, sonnet 116 also follows the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG written in iambic pentameter. It has three quatrain and an ending couplet, a typical Shakespearean sonnet. This sonnet was published in 1609 Quarto.

In this sonnet, the poet talks about love and marriage. Love is a respectable thing if it is constant and not changing with time, irrespective of any hurdles or difficulties. True love is something which accommodates all adjustments. Sonnet 116 is certainly one of the most popular sonnets of William Shakespeare. Continue below for summary and analysis of Sonnet 116: Let me not to the marriage of true minds.

SONNET 116 OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

SONNET 116 OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare 

SONNET 116 OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE SUMMARY

In the first quatrain of Sonnet 116, the poet says that he is never against the marriage of true minds, true love. At the same time he is against the love which alters with the changing circumstances or time. True love is constant regardless of any hurdles and difficulties. It is not true love if it becomes infidel (unfaithful) in course of time.

In the second quatrain of the Sonnet 116, the poet notes that love is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests but is never shaken by such external forces. Love is like a star in the sky, the North Star which stays at the same place throughout the year and guides ‘every wandering bark’ – a ship that is lost in the sea – whose true value is unknown.

In the third quatrain of the Sonnet 116, the poet says, ‘Love is not Time’s fool’ – it doesn’t depend on time or change in course of time, though rosy lips and cheeks of the youth would wrinkle one day and fade away. Love doesn’t fade away in course of time, as the days and weeks go by, but lives until death.

In the last two lines of the Sonnet 116, Shakespeare concludes saying that if he is proven wrong about this, then he has never written anything and no man has ever loved.

The main theme of the Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare is love – true and constant love. A true love is constant and doesn’t change over time. Another theme in the sonnet is the passage of time.

Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare

POETIC DEVICES IN SONNET 116 OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Poetic techniques or devices are literary devices used in poetry to enhance the intensity of feeling, to create rhythm and in particular to beautify the verses. Popular poetic techniques found in the Sonnet 116 of William Shakespeare are metaphor, alliteration, enjambment and personification.

METAPHOR

A metaphor is a figure of speech that directly refers to one thing by mentioning another, comparing one thing to another. In this sonnet, William Shakespeare employs a metaphor and compares true love to an ever-fixed mark: it is an ever-fixed mark, That looks on tempests and is never shaken.

ALLITERATION

Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. Alliteration is employed in the first quatrain of the sonnet: Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Love is not love.

ENJAMBMENT

Enjambment is a thought that does not come to an end at a line break. But it continues to the next line. Enjambment is employed in the first and third quatrain of the poem. In the first quatrain: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love That alters when it alteration finds Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! It is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken.”

PERSONIFICATION

Personification is a literary device that refers to the attribution of human characteristics to non-living or inanimate objects. William Shakespeare personifies ‘Time’ and ‘Love’ (Love’s not Time’s fool) in this sonnet as he does in most of his other sonnets.

THE 1609 QUARTO VERSION OF SONNET 116

LEt me not to the marriage of true mindes
Admit impediments,loue is not loue
Which alters when it alteration findes,
Or bends with the remouer to remoue.
O no,it is an euer fixed marke
That lookes on tempeſts and is neuer ſhaken;
It is the ſtar to euery wandring barke,
Whoſe worths vnknowne,although his higth be taken.
Lou’s not Times foole,though roſie lips and cheeks
Within his bending ſickles compaſſe come,
Loue alters not with his breefe houres and weekes,
But beares it out euen to the edge of doome:
If this be error and vpon me proued,
I neuer writ,nor no man euer loued.

 

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