William Shakespeare is one of the renowned authors and playwrights in the English language. He composed 154 sonnets, 37 plays, and a few poems during his lifetime. Shakespeare is often recognized as the greatest playwright of all time.

Most of his sonnets follow ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme. The sonnets which follow this rhyme scheme are called Shakespearean Sonnets. The concluding couplet in Shakespeare’s sonnets is used to summarize the previous 12 lines or sometimes used to bring up a surprising ending.

The first 126 sonnets are addressed to the ‘Fair Youth’ whom the speaker repeatedly insists to marry and have children in order to keep up his beauty through his son before his stunning beauty would fade away. The Fair Youth is an unknown young man. Critics tried to identify the young man with a few personalities of Shakespeare’s time. But there was no enough evidence to prove their claim.

The Fair Youth who seems to have no interest in his own marriage. The speaker is extremely worried about the Youth’s careless attitude and afraid that his beauty would be buried with him unless he marries to transmit his gene to next generation. Sonnets 127-154 are addressed to the Dark Lady whose identity is also not clear.

Here’s a list of 15 Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare.



From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decrease,
His tender heir mught bear his memeory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’st flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself 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, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.


This is one of Shakespeare’s ‘Procreation Sonnets‘ addressed to the ‘Fair Youth.’ The speaker urges the youth to marry and have children to pass on his beautiful genes to next generation thereby. Procreation and immortality are the main themes in this sonnet.

Shakespeare expresses his displeasure with the Fair Youth and his obsession with his own beauty. He can marry and have children when his beauty deteriorates with time. His offspring will then will bear testimony to his beauty. As a result, his beauty is immortalised. Obsessed with his own beauty, the youth turns on himself (becomes his own enemy) depriving the future of his beauty. When the world can enjoy abundance of his beauty, he causes it to starve.
The mention of ‘spring‘ season implies procreation and the possibility of reproduction. The poet reminds the youth of his obligation to transmit his beauty to the next generation. If he refuses, he will be remembered for his denial to do so, but never for his beauty.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

It is one among the ‘Procreation Sonnets‘ sequence addressed to the ‘Fair Youth’. In this sonnet the poet threatens the youth to produce a copy of himself right away in order to fill the void when his original beauty fades with age. The poet threatens the youth to think upon how he will look in his later years. His beauty will vanish totally, and he will get wrinkles on his skin. No matter how attractive he is now, he will inevitably lose his attractiveness over time.
There’s just one way out according to the poet. He must marry and have a son who is a carbon copy of himself (the exact replica of his own). As a result, his beauty becomes immortal, and people will be content to have his beauty unfading in the future.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest
Now is the time that face should form another;
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
For where is she so fair whose unear’d womb
Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime:
So thou through windows of thine age shall see
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remember’d not to be,
Die single, and thine image dies with thee.

One among the ‘Procreation Sonnets‘ sequence addressed to the ‘Fair Youth’. The poet continues his argument to convince the young man to marry and have children. It seems his previous attempts have failed. So, he seeks to approach the youth with a different way.

The speaker continues to encourage the youth to recognize his responsibility and soon assume his fatherhood in order to pass on his Beauty to next generation. The speaker chastises the young guy for his selfishness, showing no interest in having a child.

The speaker tells the youth to look at his mirror and convince himself that time has come to produce an exact clone of himself i.e, to have a child which resembles exactly his own face. If he denies doing so that means he is intentionally unfavourable to the world and his future wife, for there is no woman in the world who would deny having his child in her womb. And there is no man stupid like him die before having a child.
When the young man’s aged mother looks at him, it’s like looking her own face in the mirror. Similarly when he becomes old, when his own beauty declines, he can look at his child and thus regain his beauty. But the world will soon forget him if he dies before having a child.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare


famous sonnets of shakespeare



Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy:
Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: ‘Thou single wilt prove none.’
Sonnet 8 is also one among the procreation sonnets written for the Fair Youth. As all earlier sonnets, this sonnet also insists the youth to have a family of nice wife and beautiful children.
The poet inquires as to why the young man prefers sad music when there’s a chance for wonderful music. The poet reprimands the youth for preferring to remain single rather than getting married and have children. He compares music – true concord of well tuned sounds – to marriage. He compares a single music note to the young man and a chord of music to the family. Because a chord is the union of many sounds, the family means the union of father, mother and children.
A single note will not constitute an entire piece of music. Similarly, a single person will never be a family. The true concord of well-tuned sounds reprimands the solitary note for not being music. The family made up of individuals is similar to how numerous strings of music produce one sound. The poet repeatedly chastises the young man for refusing to marry, urging him to have a family and have children before his beauty would fade.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow’st
In one of thine, from that which thou departest;
And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow’st,
Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest.
Herein lives wisdom, beauty, and increase;
Without this folly, age, and cold decay:
If all were minded so, the times should cease
And threescore year would make the world away.
Let those whom nature hath not made for store,
Harsh, featureless, and rude, barrenly perish:
Look whom she best endow’d, she gave the more;
Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish:
She carv’d thee for her seal, and meant thereby,
Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die.

William Shakespeare’s sonnet 11 is one in the sequence of ‘Procreation Sonnets‘. Sonnet 11 is addressed to the ‘Fair Youth’ whom the speaker repeatedly insists to marry and have children in order to keep up his beauty through his son before his stunning beauty would fade away.


The speaker addresses the Fair Youth that his beauty continues to fail as he gradually grows old. One day his beauty will decline totally. In order to maintain nature’s balance, the youth must step back from his determination and marry at once. When he grows old, his ‘fresh blood’ (his child) will have at least some of his youth. The speaker tries to make the youth understand his irresponsible attitude. If everyone were to think like him, the human race would come to an end very soon. In order to preserve his beauty, he should be wise enough to accept to marry. It would be folly to refuse again and again. The speaker insists him to understand the necessity of procreation.

Through his child (son), the youth can keep up his tender beauty. There are thousands of ‘Harsh, featureless, and rude’ people in the world whom nature hasn’t intended for reproduction, they barrenly perish without any issues. Nature, the mother, has given bounteous gifts, “Wisdom, beauty and increase”, for the youth to cherish. She has printed her seal on him and wanted him copy him more. She wants him to reproduce, to make a copy of himself. But his denial means to upset the nature’s balance and disobey the order.

Sonnet 11 is one of Shakespeare’s sonnets notable for the themes of marriage, procreation, mortality and passage of time. The fast pace of time urges the youth to marry and utilize the only means to acquire immortality through procreation. ‘Time’ is often a major theme in most of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The speaker insists the ravages of time, and discusses how beauty fades away in the course of Time.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night,
And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
One of the sonnets in the series of Procreation Sonnets by William Shakespeare. But unlike other procreation sonnets, sonnet 15 does not encourage the youth to procreation directly. Instead, the poet wishes to capture and immortalize the youth’s beauty in (t)his sonnet.
Shakespeare analyses in the beginning of the sonnet how things grow, mutate and decay in course of time. Everything that grows will continue to grow and fade away at one point of time. As with almost all procreation sonnets, this sonnet also employs ‘Time’ as the main theme. As this transition of things is inevitable, one day the youth’s beauty will fade away for sure. 
The poet believes that his verse has the power to immortalize the youth’s beauty. Here the poet becomes a prophet. He is able to predict that the youth’s beauty never declines until the people continue to read his verse. The poet in this sonnet deplores the youth’s beauty fades away, but ironically it becomes immortal in his sonnets. Had the youth married and had children, his whole generation might have become extinct by now. But the youth’s beauty had been immortalized and continues to be new till today in his verse.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



Who will believe my verse in time to come,
If it were fill’d with your most high deserts?
Though yet heaven knows it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life, and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes,
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say ‘This poet lies;
Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.’
So should my papers, yellow’d with their age,
Be scorn’d, like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be term’d a poet’s rage
And stretched metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice, in it, and in my rhyme.

Sonnet 17 is the last one in the ‘Fair Youth Procreation‘ sequence – advising the youth to marry and have children in order to preserve his beauty. In this sonnet, the poet (the speaker) is afraid if the youth doesn’t consent to his obligation and make a copy of himself, the future generations would blame him for falsely describing or exaggerating the youth’s beauty. His main concern in the preceding sonnets was to coax the youth to marry and produce a copy of his beauty. This changes in this sonnet. His fear has strong reasons, he was unable to persuade the youth in all the means he tried to do so.


The first quatrain of sonnet 17 starts with a question in which the poet asks the Fair Youth who would believe in future his verses describing the youth’s beauty if he doesn’t reproduce a child who bears testimony of his beauty and his high qualities. The speaker denotes that his lauds may sound an exaggeration and unbelievable for generations to come as there will be no proof unless his unmatched beauty bears testimony through his child. His verse is merely like a tomb, though heaven knows, that hides his life and hardly can show half his beauty and qualities.

In the second quatrain of sonnet 17, the poet notes that the future generations will not trust him even if he is able to sufficiently describe the beauty of his eyes, his fresh verses detail the rest of his beauty and qualities. They will simply say, ‘This poet lies; Such heavenly touches ne’er touch’d earthly faces.’ The future generation needs convincing evidence which shows or reflects the beauty of the youth. Or else all his enumerations will seem merely his imagination.

In the third quatrain of sonnet 17, the speaker argues if the young man is never to marry, his verses will undoubtedly look a pack of lies by an old man and the youth’s true beauty and qualities will be termed as a ‘poet’s rage, and stretched metre of an antique song’. His genuine enumerations will look a stretched truth of old poet to beautify his poetry. Such an impression can be avoided only if he consents to marry.

In the concluding couplet of the sonnet, the poet comes back to the point insisting him to marry and if one of his children lives, the future generation would appreciate the truth in his verses and the youth will live twice, in his rhyme and through his child.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



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 sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Sonnet 18 of Shakespeare is certainly the most popular sonnet because it is the one which has been deeply imbibed in the culture of the people. It is one of the 154 sonnets of Shakespeare and one among the sonnets addressed to the Fair Youth. This sonnet departs from the previous sonnets of insisting the youth for procreation and pass on his beauty to next generation. 


William Shakespeare starts sonnet 18 with a question to the Fair Youth if he can compare the young man to a summer’s day. Comparably he is more lovely and temperate than a summer’s day. The sun, the eye of heaven, during the summer is sometimes too hot or too dim. Rough winds distract the darling buds of May. And the summer is short-lived and subject to change. Unlike the summer whose beauty is not permanent, the youth’s beauty is eternal that would never fade away in course of time. Nor shall ‘Death brag you wander’st in his shade‘.

The speaker says that the young man (his beauty or the description of his beauty) will live on this earth as long as the readers read thi(e)s(e) sonnet(s). The youth’s beauty is immortalized in his lasting verses, so his beauty will never fade. His beauty will live ‘so long as men can breathe or eyes can see‘. As long as the people live on the earth and read his verses, his beauty will live forever, so are his poems.

The main themes in Sonnet 18 are the eternal love and immortality of beauty, timelessness of art and changeability of nature’s beauty. A summer’s day is a lovely thing, but it (its beauty) is subject to change. Similarly the youth is beautiful, but his beauty is subject to change in course of time. His beauty is changeable and immortal at the same time because his beauty is immortalized in verses by the poet.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



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 books 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.

Sonnet 23 is one of the 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare. Sonnet 23 is about the poet’s inability to speak of his love to the youth due to his uncontrollable emotions.


In the first quatrain of the sonnet, the poet explains how he is unable to express his love to the Fair Youth. He compares himself to an inexperienced actor on the stage who forgets his dialogue because of extreme nervousness. Like him, the poet is also in the loss of control, his emotions restrict the words from his mouth. In the next two lines, the poet likens himself to a wild beast whose extreme fierceness causes it an inability to achieve anything.

In the second quatrain of the Sonnet 23, the poet says that he becomes so week in the company of the youth. In the fear of trust, he is unable to say the youth the right things; he forgets to say the right ceremony of love’s rite. And he is overcharged with the burden of his own love’s might, so his love’s strength seems to be weakening.

In the third quatrain of the Sonnet 23, as he is caught up in the might of love, he says, he is unable express his feelings anymore through his speech. His uncontrollable emotion and fear prevent him from speaking. When he is dumbstruck, he believes his book will be more eloquent. So, he encourages the youth to read his book to understand the depth of his heartfelt love. His books can speak louder than his tongue.

In the final couplet of Sonnet 23, the speaker comes to an end, insisting his beloved to learn to read and hear through eyes if he has to understand what his silent love intends to say. His books better speak his words rather than his tongue. The speaker is impotent to speak and the writer shows up himself here.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



Mine eye hath play’d the painter and hath steel’d,
Thy beauty’s form in table of my heart;
My body is the frame wherein ’tis held,
And perspective it is best painter’s art.
For through the painter must you see his skill,
To find where your true image pictur’d lies,
Which in my bosom’s shop is hanging still,
That hath his windows glazed with thine eyes.
Now see what good turns eyes for eyes have done:
Mine eyes have drawn thy shape, and thine for me
Are windows to my breast, where-through the sun
Delights to peep, to gaze therein on thee;
Yet eyes this cunning want to grace their art,
They draw but what they see, know not the heart.

Sonnet 24 is one of the sonnets in the Fair Youth sequence written by Shakespeare.
The speaker compares his eyes to a painter which has engraved the youth’s beautiful image on the canvas of his heart. His whole body surrounds the image like a frame. Realistic painting requires certain skills. No painter or artist in the world has the highest skill, rather than his own eyes, to paint the soulful image of the youth to dwell continuously in his heart. 

The poet’s eyes are the painter and the youth’s eyes are the windows through which the poet sees his own heart. And through this window the sun also takes a look into his reflection. Other painters paint what they see, they are unable to see into the youth’s heart. So only the poet’s eyes have the right skill to paint the soulful image of the Fair Youth.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



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 my self 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.

Sonnet 29 is one of the 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare. In this sonnet, the speaker expresses his concern about being an outcast and lists out misfortunes he has suffered. He also notes that love can heal one’s injuries and pains of heart.


In the first quatrain of the Sonnet 29, the speaker begins by saying that whenever he is struck by misfortunes, people would begin to see down upon him and none would come to console him. At such times, he would sit alone and cry for being an outcast (none to accompany him) and blame heaven (god) for turning deaf ear to his cries and not answering his prayers. Sometimes he would look upon himself and curse his fate.

In the second quatrain of the Sonnet 29, the speaker continues to say that he would sit alone crying and wishing he were someone with better possibilities, and good friends, Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope, totally discontent with what he is blessed with.

In the third quatrain of the Sonnet 29, the speaker admits that during such difficult times if he has the thoughts of his beloved (the Fair Youth), he suddenly regains all his strength. He would feel himself as a bird that flies up singing hymns at heaven’s gate at the break of day. The poet notes the power of love here. It has potential to heal any pain or injury of heart.

In the concluding couplet of Sonnet 29, the speaker says that with all his strengths regained, he would then deny his place with kings. The youth’s sweet love would bring such wealth and strength.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.

The poet sits alone recollecting his past. He realizes that he hasn’t achieved everything that he once striven for in the past. He sheds new tears for old griefs. He grieves deeply for the time he wasted in his life.
He then drowns in tears for the precious friends he has lost to the death’s dateless night and weeps over the lost loves. And he sadly recounts all the grievances which he had already grieved about and tears again for the same. But when he begins to think about the youth, he regains everything he had lost and all his sorrows come to an end at once.

The poem talks about the pain of his memories and disappointments of past, the lost opportunities and friends, the lost pleasures etc., and how these affect later in his life while just reflecting on them.
Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



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 is one of the 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare. 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, his confusion over his current situation, his sleepless nights and day dreams are highlighted in this sonnet.


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. But while 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 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 it is 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 the youth again and every night is bright given the dreams that show him his beloved.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare

famous sonnets of 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 is one of the 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare and one among the Fair Youth sequence. 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 one of the most popular sonnets of William Shakespeare.


In the first quatrain of the 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 hurdles and difficulties in course of life. 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.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare



My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red, than her lips red:
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground:
And yet by heaven, I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.

Sonnet 130 is one of the 154 sonnets written by William Shakespeare and one among the ‘Dark Lady’ sequence. In this sonnet, the poet genuinely describes his mistress and makes a number of comparisons to natural objects in which to describe her beauty and flaws. Shakespeare satirizes the tradition of the conventional poets, during and before the Elizabethan era, comparing their beloved to all wonderful natural objects. Here Shakespeare makes negative comparisons but notes his mistress is still loveable.

Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare, Famous Sonnets of Shakespeare


William Shakespeare begins the first quatrain of the Sonnet 130 by comparing his mistress’ eyes to sun: My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun. Shakespeare tries to set a new tradition by not preferring to praise his beloved only of her beauty and strength. It looks artificial and spurious. Otherwise he wants to be authentic in his descriptions by concentrating on her negatives also. He insists that his beloved’s breasts are not so white as snow, they are dull and greyish. Coral is not her lips. Her hair is compared to a black wire, rough and coarse.

In the second quatrain of Sonnet 130, the poet continues comparing his beloved to some more natural objects. He says that he has seen roses damasked, red and white, and her cheeks are not like these roses and he finds some perfumes more delightful and pleasant than the breath from ‘my mistress reeks’. 

The third quatrain of Sonnet 130 also continues comparison of the speaker’s beloved. He likes to listen to his beloved speak, but he knows that music is far more pleasing. He is sure that her walk resembles no goddess (she walks like an ordinary human) although he has never seen a goddess walk.

In the last two lines, the poet promises that his lover is so unique, special and loveable as any woman in a conventional romantic poem where her beauty is excessively inflated through false comparisons.

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