Sonnet 43 is one of the 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare and one among the 126 sonnets addressed to the Fair Youth. Like most of other sonnets, sonnet 43 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 seems to find pleasure from living in the world of dreams. He becomes sad in the absence of his beloved (the Fair Youth) and his yearning for him forces to live in a dream world. The poet’s anxiety and perturbation in his beloved’s absence and his confusion over his current situation, his sleepless nights and day dreams are highlighted in this sonnet. Continue below for summary and analysis of Sonnet 43: When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see.
SONNET 43: WHEN MOST I WINK, THEN DO MINE EYES BEST SEE
When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright, are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
SONNET 43 SUMMARY
The poet opens the first quatrain of Sonnet 43 saying that when he falls asleep at night, his eyes best see. During the day, his eyes only see unrespected, insignificant things. When he is asleep, his eyes are able to see his beloved in dream, they are directed to his bright appearance in the dark.
In the second quatrain of the Sonnet 43, the poet wonders when his beloved shines so brightly in others eyes in the dark when they are asleep and can make others’ shadows bright in darkness (in the dream), how his real appearance would be like in day time. He is brighter than the daylight, the poet says. It is so exciting to imagine for the poet how happy he would be if he sees his beloved during day time.
In the third quatrain of Sonnet 43, the poet says that how blessed and happy for him to see his beloved in the living day while his imperfect shade at dead night still stays green in his sightless eyes.
The poet ends the Sonnet 43 saying that every day is dark until he sees him again and every night is bright given the dreams that show him his beloved.
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. The major poetic techniques used in the Sonnet 43 are enjambment and antithesis.
Enjambment is a thought that does not come to an end at a line break. But it continues to the next line. In this sonnet: “How would thy shadow’s form form happy show To the clear day with thy much clearer light.”
Antithesis occurs when two contrasting ideas are put together to achieve a desired outcome. In Sonnet 43, the poet uses this technique in the last two lines: “All days are nights to see till I see thee, And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.”
THE 1609 QUARTO VERSION OF SONNET 43
When moſt I winke then doe mine eyes beſt ſee,
For all the day they view things vnreſpected,
But when I ſleepe,in dreames they looke on thee,
And darkely bright,are bright in darke directed.
Then thou whoſe ſhaddow ſhaddowes doth make bright,
How would thy ſhadowes forme,forme happy ſhow,
To the cleere day with thy much cleerer light,
When to vn-ſeeing eyes thy ſhade ſhines ſo?
How would (I ſay )mine eyes be bleſſed made,
By looking on thee in the liuing day ?
When in dead night their faire imperfect ſhade,
Through heauy ſleepe on ſightleſſe eyes doth ſtay?
All dayes are nights to ſee till I ſee thee,
And nights bright daies when dreams do ſhew thee me.