Shakespeare Sonnets: “What is sonnet” with analysis of 154 sonnets

Shakespeare sonnets


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This page provides you with a clear understanding of Shakespeare Sonnets. A comprehensive list of 154 sonnets written by Shakespeare is given here. You will find analysis and meaning of each of Shakespeare sonnets for better understanding. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument by Hank Whittemore“, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets. Before diving deep into it, let us first understand, “What is a Sonnet” and what are the different type of Sonnets.

What Is A Sonnet: An Analysis Of Shakespeare Sonnets And Petrarchan Sonnets

A sonnet is a poem written in a particular format. The typical sonnet has 14 lines and originated in Italy. Although several poets abided by the 14 line format in various poems the credit for the first style of sonnet goes to Italian poet Franseco Petrarch of the 14th century. Later in the 15 century, William Shakespeare created his own style of Shakespeare Sonnets creating for the English language what would be regarded as the two major styles of sonnets. The Shakespeare sonnets and the Petrarchan sonnets.

The Petrarchan sonnet

While Shakespearean sonnets were simpler in the pattern, The Petrarchan sonnet was complex. It was used extensively by renaissance poetry and served as a model for lyrical poetry. It was characterized by two parts called:

  • Octave (8 lines)
  • Sestet (6 lines)

The octave was a reflection and introduction of a particular theme while the sestet presented a change of thought or solution to a dilemma presented in the octave.

The rhyme scheme of a Petrarchan sonnet

The rhyme scheme of a sonnet is the pattern of the rhyming sound of the last word in each line. Thus if the last word of the first line is denoted by “ A “and the second “B”, then the pattern of an octave would be ABBA, ABBA.


When I consider how my light is spent (A)

Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, (B)

And that one talent which is death to hide, (B)

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent (A)

Similarly, the sestet denoted by C, D, and E would rhyme in a pattern described as CDE, CDE. In certain cases, it may also be CDC CDC


thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart; – C

Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea: – D

So didst thou travel on life’s common way, – E

The lines above have been taken from the famous poem “On His Blindness” Written by the blind poet John Milton in 1674.

Shakespeare sonnet

Shakespeare sonnets were actually developed by the Earl of Surrey but because of Shakespeare’s extensive use of the style, it became known as Shakespeare sonnets. There are about 154 Shakespeare sonnets attributed to the bard who many says were addressed to a young lord living in Shakespeare’s time and presumably his dear friend.

The cover page of Shakespeare’s “The Sonnets” published in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe has given rise to much debate as to who the sonnets are actually dedicated to. The cover page says to “W.H.” and W. H. is regarded as a man whom many believe to be the lord and young youth who is the subject of the majority of the sonnets, while other scholars believe the dedication was made by the publisher Thomas Thorpe without Shakespeare’s permission.

If at all, W H is Shakespeare’s reference to the subject of his verses, then scholars believe it could be William Herbert, The Earl of Pembroke and Shakespeare’s friend or Henry Wriothesley, The Earl of Southampton, known for his looks and argued to be the actual fair youth of the Sonnets.

A Shakespeare sonnet also consisted of 14 lines further divided into four parts. The first three parts consisted of four lines each and called a quatrain. The last part consisted of two lines and was called a couplet. The rhyme scheme of a quatrain was divided according to the individual quatrains

1st quatrain-ABAB


1. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? A

2. Thou art more lovely and more temperate. B

3. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, A

4. And summer’s lease hath all too short a date. B

2nd quatrain CDCD


5. Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, C

6. And often is his gold complexion dimmed; D

7. And every fair from fair sometime declines, C

8. By chance, or nature’s changing course, untrimmed; D

3rd quatrain-EFEF

9. But thy eternal summer shall not fade, E

10. Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, F

11. Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, E

12. When in eternal lines to Time thou grow’st. F



13. So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, G

14. So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. G

The above example is from Shakespeare sonnets, No 18 which was considered the most beautiful of English sonnets and part of Shakespeare’s procreation sonnets.

Introduction to complete list of Shakespeare Sonnets with short summary & Theme

Now that we have completely understood “What is Sonnet” and its rhyming scheme. Let us take a step forward and look at all the sonnets written by William Shakespeare. You will find detailed analysis for each sonnet by clicking the link attached.

Shakespeare Sonnet 1, From fairest creatures we desire increase

In Sonnet 1 Shakespeare compares life to beauty saying how man desires to increase this beauty by having children. He says some men are too self-absorbed in their own lives and deprive the continuation of life. This makes man his own enemy. He implores such men to procreate and continue life’s legacy by having children instead of dying alone leaving nothing on Earth.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 2, When forty winters shall besiege thy brow

In Sonnet 2 Shakespeare continues the theme of procreation explaining to man the importance and beauty of his life and how he shouldn’t waste it. He says after forty, man will wither into old age and the only thing that can sustain him is a child and heir in whom his name will live on.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 3, Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest

In Sonnet 3 Shakespeare urges man not to waste the beauty of life by being childless. He says a child immortalizes a man’s name. Just like man is a mirror for his own mother to remind her of her youth, so will man see his younger days again through the eyes of his own child. He urges man not to die single.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 4, Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend

Sonnet 4 continues Shakespeare pleas and urging to man to procreate and have children instead of wasting his life on himself by being alone. He scolds men for not using the gift of procreation that nature has provided. According to Shakespeare, a childless man will only have the beauty of his name buried with him in death and forgotten.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 5, Those hours that with gentle work did frame

In Sonnet 5 Shakespeare compares the passage of life to the seasons saying that society admires a man in his youth but will forget him when he withers with age. Similarly like summer proceeds to dull winter, youth ages to a time when man is old and barren. However, the essence of man remains and that can be carried on with children.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 6, Then let not winter’s ragged hand deface

Sonnet 6 is a continuation of sonnet 5 where Shakespeare explains to man not to grow old without continuing his legacy. He urges man to marry saying that woman too is always willing to be a wife and bear children. He urges man not to be selfish and let the beauty of his life end as a lonely corpse.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 7, Lo, in the orient when the gracious light.

In sonnet 7, Shakespeare uses the rising and setting of the sun as a metaphor for life and the stages of youth and old age. He compares the midday sun to the middle age where man retains a part of his youthfulness but in old age, he will also disappear like the setting sun dying a lonely man unless starts a family.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 8, Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly

In sonnet 8 Shakespeare compares the happiness of a family to the harmony of music. He describes how families with individual members create happiness like the strings of a harp that play a single tune. He also reminds man that the happiness of a family will make him change his mind of living single.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 9, Is it for fear to wet a widow’s eye

Sonnet 9 continues with scolding and advising man about the need to procreate and have children. Shakespeare says that if man is afraid of leaving behind a widow, he shouldn’t be, because he will always live on in his children’s eyes. Shakespeare considers a single man without children selfish and to die childless is a shameful thing.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 10, For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any

Sonnet 10 is a direct continuation of sonnet 9 where Shakespeare accuses a youth of harboring hate within himself to the point of denying himself a family and children. He asks the youth to change out of love for him the poet and bear children who will carry on his memory.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 11, As fast as thou shalt wane, so fast thou grow’st

In Sonnet 11, Shakespeare describes to man the importance of procreation and how it is stupid not to get children those results in a meaningless and wasteful life. He emphasizes on how nature has given man its biggest gift and that is the ability to reproduce. Man should be grateful by showing his appreciation and multiplying.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 12, When I do count the clock that tells the time

Sonnet 12 is among Shakespeare’s most popular sonnets where he addresses a young lord saying that the reality of ageing proves how the beauty of life cannot escape the hands of time where everything eventually dies. The only way to escape time is to ensure ones name is carried on by having children.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 13, O that you were yourself! But, love, you are

Sonnet 13 is a continuation of sonnet 12 where Shakespeare reflects on the theme of death explaining that life is just a short lease. Only by producing children can a man protect himself and his name from being destroyed permanently. It is the first sonnet where he addresses his subject as “you” and says that it is man’s responsibility to produce children.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 14, Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck

Sonnet 14 continues the theme of procreation from a different perspective. Shakespeare addresses a youth saying although he cannot predict the future by conventional means; he can easily see the truth and beauty in the eyes of the youth. If the youth does not produce children to transfer these qualities to, then the only truth is the eternal death of his name.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 15, When I consider every thing that grows

In Sonnet 15 Shakespeare speaks about how a youth like all living things has a short lifespan and that the beauty of youth may be vibrant but ultimately old age and time catches up leading to death. However he the poet has the power to cheat time by immortalizing the youth’s name through his poetry.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 16, But wherefore do not you a mightier way

Sonnet 16 takes its cue and continuation from sonnet 15 where Shakespeare indulges in the theme of procreation. He tells his subject, the youth that by he can live on in the eyes of his children and that reality is better than being remembered in poetry or a painting.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 17, Who will believe my verse in time to come

In Sonnet 17, Shakespeare continues addressing the youth saying that his poetry does not possess the right words to describe the youth’s beauty and in the future, it will be regarded as false because no one would believe such a person could exist. Only if the youth has children can he hope to live own in his descendants and poetry too.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 18, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Sonnet 18 is the best loved and most famous of all Shakespearean sonnets that glorifies the love he feels for the addressee or subject whose gender is not accurately known. It is considered the ultimate love poem where the poet compares the subject to the season of summer as a time of beauty. Just as nature can change the seasons in the same way man also ages from youth to old age and death. But he as a poet will not allow the person’s beauty and name to die saying that his poetry describing his beauty will make the person live on forever.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 19, Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws

In Sonnet 19 Shakespeare uses animal imagery to explain how animals and natural things age and die with time. However, he requests time not to do the same with his lover but then challenges time that he cannot Age his lover as his poetry will immortalize his youth forever.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 20, A woman’s face, with nature’s own hand painted

In Sonnet 20, Shakespeare clearly mixes gender stereotypes comparing his subject, the subject fair youth to that of a naturally beautiful woman. He praises all his qualities but regrets that the youth was created a man which deprived the poet of a relationship with him. He ends by saying he will cherish the youths love on an emotional level while women can enjoy the youth on a physical level.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 21, So is it not with me as with that muse

In sonnet 21, Shakespeare describes through various similes the beauty of his muse who is also his love comparing her to everything beautiful. He compares her beauty to rare objects on earth and feels that it isn’t worth discussing his muse with men who prefer believing gossip as he isn’t exactly a salesman to sell his love.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 22, My glass shall not persuade me I am old

In sonnet 22, Shakespeare deals with the equality of love between himself and the fair youth. He says that this love makes himself feel young since both their love resides in each other’s hearts and that he will love the youth till his death and that the youth’s heart will remain with him even in death.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 23, As an unperfect actor on the stage

In sonnet 23, Shakespeare deals with the theme of imperfection and inability to express his love for the youth simply because of the overwhelming power of love within himself. His lack of confidence that the love will be returned makes him tongue-tied. He then pleads the youth not to bother with his words but try to read his actions and his verse that speak more about his genuine love.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 24, Mine eye hath played the painter and hath steeled

Regarded as one of the toughest sonnets to translate, Shakespeare’s play with words is complicated in trying to explain that the youth and the poet shares each other’s love and thus see his love through one another’s eyes which are like windows to each other’s hearts. However, in the end, he expresses a bit of doubt by saying his eyes may see the physical beauty of the youth but he cannot guess his true feelings.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 25, Let those who are in favor with their stars

Sonnet 25 Shakespeare describes that he does not long for public titles and honor because he feels society is hypercritical and as long as you are doing well you are recognized but once you fail you are forgotten. He is happier to remain in his lover’s heart where he cannot be removed.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 26, Lord of my love, to whom in vassalage

Shakespeare says that he is totally devoted to the youth calling him the poet’s lord. He says that his sense of duty is so great that he lacks the right words to express it. He hopes life will favor him to get lucky enough for the youth to recognize his worth but till that happens he will hide from the youth for fear of being tested.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 27, Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed

In sonnet 27, Shakespeare says that he is constantly thinking about his love where during the day he physically aches for him and looks for him. At night when he rests his physical body, he cannot sleep because his mind is restless with thoughts about his love. In this way, he gets no peace during day and night.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 28, How can I then return in happy plight

Continuing from Sonnet no 27, Shakespeare says that he is plagued day and night by thoughts of his love. As a result, his tireless days and worrisome night is draining him physically and emotionally as he is constantly thinking of his love and because of this the day and night are unbearably long.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 29, When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

In Sonnet 29, the poet in depression wallows in self-pity cursing himself for his misfortune and disgrace. He envies the fortunes and skills of others which depresses him further. But in his depression, the thoughts of his love, improve his mood making him feel emotionally uplifted. He compares such thoughts to emotional riches saying he wouldn’t exchange them for material wealth or the place of a king.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 30, When to the sessions of sweet silent thought

In sonnet 30, the poet is a depressed state and begins to recollect his sad memories. He asks if he can grieve for all those moments in life when he suffered loss and misfortunate as well as loss of love. But in spite of the sadness that pains him again like fresh wounds, all he has to do is think of his friends and those happy thoughts make his sorrows disappear.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 31, Thy bosom is endearèd with all hearts

In a continuation of sonnet no 30, Shakespeare tells his friend that he sees in him all his past lovers whom he thought to be dead and buried. He compares his friend’s heart to a grave of memories which contains everything he knew about love including the people who loved him. He then says that he now enjoys all of this love from his friend’s heart and his friend too has his love in return.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 32 Analysis, If thou survive my well-contented day

In Sonnet 32, Shakespeare tells his friend that if he lives longer than the poet, he should not compare his poetry with the skill of modern verse written by poets far better than him. He feels that if his friend’s inspiration had been combined with modern day skills, he would have produced better sonnets but since he is dead and cannot do anything, his friend should read his poetry for the love rather than skill”

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 33, Full many a glorious morning have I seen

In sonnet 33, Shakespeare displays mixed emotions where the theme is changed in comparison to previous sonnets of praise to his friend the fair lord of his sonnets. Now he uses the imagery of a sun covered by clouds to describe the relationship where his friend was once beautiful but is now overshadowed by ugliness and disgrace. But in the end, he has a change of heart saying that he never stopped loving the friend and that this could be just a temporary phase.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 34, Why didst thou promise such a beauteous day

Sonnet 34 is a continuation of the theme of sonnet 33 where he accuses the fair lord or his friend of causing him pain and that even though he repents it isn’t enough to take away the pain. But his love is strong and when he sees tears in his friend’s eyes, he feels he must forgive him.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 35, No more be grieved at that which thou hast done.

In sonnet 35, Shakespeare changes his theme of condemnation in sonnet 33 and 34 to a theme of reconciliation. He now experiences mixed emotions and feels sorry for his friend comparing his mistakes against the poet as no more than human nature and justifying the fact that all men aren’t perfect. In saying so he also criticizes himself for justifying his friend’s actions in spite of being the victim himself.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 36, Let me confess that we two must be twain

In sonnet 36, Shakespeare is trying to explain to his friend whom he loves that they have to separate as they have brought disgrace to each other. But the separation is only a physical one as they minds are united with each other. Moreover, he wants to maintain a low profile in public and not acknowledge the friend to others and asks his friend to do the same because he values the friend’s reputation like his own.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 37 Analysis, As a decrepit father takes delight

The theme of sonnet 36 is praise of his friend. Shakespeare continues from sonnet no 36, praising his young friend and degrading himself saying he is like an unlucky old man whose only security and sustenance is the friend’s presence in his life. He derives satisfaction from the words, activities and good luck of his friend and wishes him even more prosperity which he says will make him also happy

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 38, How can my muse want subject to invent

In sonnet 38, the theme of praise for his friend continues but Shakespeare reflects a dual theme here being rivalry with other poets whose abilities he questions to write poetry. He considers his friend a muse of inspiration where other poets would be unworthy to write about him. He also tells his friend that if his poetry is recognized, then he doesn’t mind the pain of writing even though it is his friend who gets all the praise

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 39 Analysis, O how thy worth with manners may I sing

Shakespeare continues his theme of praise in sonnet 39 explaining to his friend that their love has united them into becoming one identity but now praising his friend is like praising himself. This is why it is better for them to separate which will cause him pain and break him into two. But now when he writes poems of praise to his friend, the friend will enjoy it alone somewhere else which is what he deserves.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 40, Take all my loves, my love; yea, take them all

Sonnet 40 is complex with mixed interpretation by Shakespearean excerpts the common accepted theme is infidelity and pain. Shakespeare’s friend has committed adultery by having an affair with the poets love, sweetheart or wife. The poet is hurt and questions him why when he showered so much love on him yet he chooses to love someone else. He says he forgives him and won’t be his enemy but wants him to know that emotional hurt caused by a loved one is worse that the physical injury of an enemy.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 41, Those pretty wrongs that liberty commits

In Sonnet 41, Shakespeare continues the theme of infidelity from sonnet 40 scolding his friend the youth for sleeping with his mistress. He forgives him because he says the youth’s beauty and age is the cause of women pursuing him and leading him into temptation but the youth should at least leave his mistress alone because he is making her commit a sin as well as spoiling the relationship with the poet.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 42, That thou hast her it is not all my grief

Sonnet 42 is the third and final sonnet in the trilogy of sonnets where the theme is infidelity. The poet is trying his best to justify the infidelity of his wife and the betrayal of his friend who has slept with his wife. He justifies the situation with a complex love triangle saying that since his friend and he are one person because of their relationship, then it also means his wife loves him alone and no one else.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 43, When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see

In sonnet 43, Shakespeare begins a new theme of absence. His friend has gone away and he misses him to the extent of his days seeming meaningless because of the youth’s absence. He says only in the night when he sleeps that his dreams of the youth bring him happiness because they shine like a light in his darkness.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 44, If the dull substance of my flesh were thought

In continuation of the absence theme of sonnet 43, Shakespeare wishes that he weren’t so far away from his friend. He also wishes that could bridge the distance just by thinking about it. However, he also realizes that this isn’t so and that his body likes all human beings is made up of the elements of earth and water which are too slow to achieve such things. So he must spend the separation in sadness.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 45, The other two, slight air and purging fire

In sonnet no 45, Shakespeare continues the absence theme saying that his body is made of four elements of which two are like his thoughts and desires which travel back and forth between his beloved and himself. When the two elements return to restore balance in his body, he is happy as they bring news of his beloved but since it is short-lived, he sends them back again which makes him depressed as usual.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 46 , Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war

In Sonnet 46 Shakespeare depicts a theme of conflict of emotions and senses saying that his eyes and heart are in conflict with each other who does justice to the image of his beloved and who has earned the right of keeping that image. He proposes a decision based on his thoughts saying that his eyes have the right of deciding the external image of his beloved while his heart controls the love involved between them both.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 47, Betwixt mine eye and heart a league is took

In sonnet no 47, Shakespeare continues with the theme of conflict between his heart and eyes but saying that they now have reached a pact where both help each other to invoke the memory of his beloved who is far away. His eyes through the external sight of a picture and his heart through thoughts and memories. In this way, he is able to keep his beloved close to him.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 48, How careful was I, when I took my way

In Sonnet no 48, Shakespeare displays the theme of anxiety that his friend and love will be stolen away from him. He says that though he keeps his worldly possessions and valuables under lock and key, they are not as valuable as the friend is to him whom he has locked within his own heart and from where the youth comes and goes. This is why; he fears that the youth’s beauty will tempt even honest people to steal him away.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 49, Against that time (if ever that time come)

In continuation of the theme of anxiety and loss of his friend and love Shakespeare appears to resign himself to his fate by justifying the fact that his friend the fair lord does not love him anymore. He laments that he is expecting that to happen soon at a time when the youth may mature and become a stranger to him. In a depressive state, he accepts his fate saying that the youth is within his rights to do what he wants.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 50 Analysis, How heavy do I journey on the way

Sonnet 50 continues to deal with the theme of separation and depression where the poet is now traveling to a distant land but is depressed that his journey takes him farther away from his friend. He compares his heavy heart to the slow journey saying that the horse knew the reason why he doesn’t wish to travel faster. The groans of his horse when spurred onwards remind him of his own sadness and how he leaves Joy (his friend) behind.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 51, Thus can my love excuse the slow offense

Sonnet 51 is continued from sonnet 50 as Shakespeare describes he is travelling with a heavy heart and doesn’t want to travel fast in case that takes him away from his friend faster. He even feels as if his horse is cooperating with him by helping him move slower and since he hasn’t anything o do, he too will travel slowly until he returns when he prefers jumping off his horse and running to his friend.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 52, So am I as the rich whose blessèd key

In sonnet 52, Shakespeare again invokes the theme of praise for his friend comparing him to riches and valuables that should be locked and opened only on special occasions so as not to dilute its value and pleasure of seeing them. He considers his friend blessed whose presence blesses others surrounding him and for those who can’t see him are forever in hope to do so.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 53, What is your substance, whereof are you made

Perhaps Shakespeare in sonnet 53, is adopting a platonic love theme praising the youth through symbolization. He compares the youth to a Greek God saying any attempt to copy him would end up a futile imitation. He expresses his love for the youth saying that he is beyond humanity and that he is incomparable to nothing.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 54, O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem

In sonnet 54, Shakespeare plays upon the theme of conceit and praise comparing the youth his friend to the beauty and immortality of a rose. He says that unlike wildflowers that are only noticed for their looks but then die in obscurity, a rose even after death is used for its petals and its scent in perfumes. Similarly, the youth’s beauty is compared to the rose and when he dies; his essence will live on in the poet’s poems.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 55, Not marble nor the gilded monuments

In sonnet 55, Shakespeare creates Horace’s theme who advocated poetry living beyond physical monuments to dead people. In the same way, Shakespeare tells the youth that regardless of how stone sculptures, statues, and monuments ultimately age and become old with time, his poems in which he has praised the fair youth (presumably Mr. W. H. whom all his poems are addressed to) will never grow old and the poetry verses will make him immortal.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 56, Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said

In sonnet 56, Shakespeare diverts from the security of sonnet 55 and expresses again a theme of insecurity and separation. He tells the youth not to kill the love for each other with lethargy and instead carry on filling himself with it. He asks him to regard their separation as a situation that makes them feel even more blessed when they see each other from afar like lovers standing on opposite shores of an ocean or compare it to summer that is longed for when exposed to harsh winter.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 57, Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Among Shakespeare sonnets, sonnet 57 is a revelation of sorts expressing the theme of infidelity implying that he is like a servant totally devoted in love to the fair youth presumably the man W.H. the subject of the sonnets. He waits upon him like a salve not having time for him but the youth is busy with having affairs with others and in spite of that he bears him no ill will.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 58, That god forbid, that made me first your slave

In continuation of sonnet no 57, Shakespeare maintains the theme of separation and infidelity addressing W.H. as his master whom god has forced him to serve. He longs to question the youth and with whom he is having affairs but accepting his position as a servant who cannot question a master. He compares his situation to a prison and feels he must suffer this fate of infidelity and separation at the youth’s hands without questioning him.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 59, If there be nothing new, but that which is

In Shakespeare sonnet 59, the poet renews the theme of praise for the fair youth who is presumed to be known as W.H. He reflects how there is nothing new in terms of creativity in spite of people working hard. He also wonders about insight into past writings saying that most probably would not be able to do justice to the beauty of the youth saying that it is unlikely someone of his beauty even existed in the past.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 60, Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore

One of Shakespeare’s most important and famous sonnets where he paints a theme of the ravages of time and how time slowly but surely marches onward giving us beauty and perfection in youth but again taking it away in old age till our deaths. However, in the same breath, he expresses that his verses will beat time and continue to be read as a mark of praise and glory to the memory of the fair youth who many belie to be W. H. (presumably the earl of Southampton).

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 61, Is it thy will thy image should keep open

In Shakespearean sonnet no 61. Shakespeare evokes the theme of self torture with thoughts of the fair lord (presumably W.H as described earlier), gives him insomnia where he feels imaginary shadows mock his condition. He wonders if the youth also harbors similar thoughts towards him but then reminds himself that it isn’t possible because the youth doesn’t love him that much and even while he is awake and far away, the youth spends time with others instead.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 62, Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye

In Shakespeare sonnet 62, the poet deals with the jealousy theme as part of three jealousy sonnets. He starts by praising himself endlessly accusing himself of vanity but in the end justifies this as a display of love for the youth saying that although he is aged, he feels like he is young and beautiful simply because the love of the youth and the man known as W.H. (in Intro) makes him feel beautiful.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 63, Against my love shall be as I am now

In sonnet 63, Shakespeare ends the theme of jealousy and once again indulges in the theme of immortality saying how time is a cruel being that will ultimately age the fair youth presumably W.H. (the subject of his sonnets) till the youth dies. But in anticipation of that time, the poet has written poems that he knows will live on for people to read and immortalize the beauty of the youth.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 64, When I have seen by time’s fell hand defaced

In sonnet no 64, Shakespeare continues with the theme of loss and mortality because of the ravages of time saying how he has watched time destroy everything g he loves and yet he also fears the time when the fair youth who is W.H, will also be taken away from him. He is helpless in such things and all he can do is weep at the fact of impending loss.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 65 Analysis, Since brass, nor stone, nor earth

In sonnet 65, Shakespeare continues his theme of mortality where he laments how the beauty of the fair youth (Mr. W.H) will ultimately be decayed by time and there is no force or power on earth to stop it happening unless by some miracle, his poetry is successful and the youth’s beauty will live on in his words.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 66, Tired with all these, for restful death I cry

In Sonnet 66, Shakespeare depicts a theme of hopelessness, melancholy, and dishonesty saying that he is fed up of the world’s corruption and dishonest and hates to see such times when good people are enslaved and the bad are enjoying themselves. He wishes to die but laments that the only thing stopping him is the love of the youth presumably W.H. who will be alone.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 67, Ah, wherefore with infection should he live

Sonnet 67 continues from sonnet 66 where Shakespeare continues with the theme of impending loss for his friend the fair youth questioning the futility of living among corrupt people and imposters who try to take advantage of the youth’s goodness. He even criticizes nature saying she has no more beauty to offer except for the youth who is the only beautiful thing living which nature preserves as a memory.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 68, Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn

In a continuation again of sonnet 66 and 67, Shakespeare voices a theme of imitation when impersonators made a mockery of fine art and beauty. He mocks how illegitimate art has surfaced everywhere making a mockery of beautiful things and mourns the loss of a time when false makeup wasn’t even needed to make people beautiful and now everyone is ugly. He says only his love the fair lord (who is W.H.) is the sole representative of beauty which is why Nature will preserve him as a memory of what beauty was at one time

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 69, Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view

In sonnet 69, Shakespeare conjures up the theme of rebuke and doubt beginning to praise the fair youth (W.H.) as mentioned in the intro). He first praises the youth’s outward beauty saying that he is indeed good looking which is why people heap praise on him, but the moment they will look into his character and judge him by his deeds, they may find him corrupt because as the poet tells him, he is mixing in bad company and as a result is being influenced to become the same.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 70, That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect

In Sonnet no 70, Shakespeare changes his theme of sonnet 69 to one of defense for the fair youth or fair lord that is W.H. he says that the youth will be slandered against as it is usual for people possessing good looks and beauty to be spoken ill of. It is also common for accusations and temptations to be attracted to beauty like fungus to flowers. He praises the youth for resisting temptation so slander can’t harm him. However, he also says that if such things didn’t happen like these ill tainted elements, the youth would be perfect.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 71 Analysis, No longer mourn for me when I am dead

As a continuation of sonnet 71, Shakespeare portrays the theme of love and loss. He laments about leaving the worlds saying ultimately he will be buried with his poems. He asks the fair youth not to remember him in case he by looking at his poems do so and feels sad because if he does, the society will frown upon him and mock him just like they would do to the poet.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 72, O lest the world should task you to recite

Sonnet 72 is a continuation of sonnet 71 where Shakespeare conjures the theme of shame and worthlessness saying that the fair lord (w.H) should forget him after his death. He feels this way because according to him, he has not produced anything worthwhile and by forgetting him, the youth won’t have to feel ashamed of the connection with him. He says if his name is buried with his body, the then youth won’t have to fear having to speak falsely about the poet’s achievements.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 73, That time of year thou mayst in me behold

In sonnet 73, the poet conjures up the theme of ultimate death making love grow stronger. He says that he is now aged and will appear to the fair lord his friend (W. H.) like the season of autumn when trees lose their leaves or like a sun that fades at sunset. He also feels that when the youth will look at him in this way with the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, he will learn to love him even more.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 74, But be contented when that fell arrest

In sonnet 74, Shakespeare continues from sonnet 73 reflecting the theme of death where he tells the fair lord that he should not be upset or grieve over his dead body which ultimately will be consumed and decayed and not worth remembering about. His body will return to the earth but his spirit will live on in his verses and this is what the youth should keep with him and remember forever.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 75, So are you to my thoughts as food to life

In sonnet no 75, Shakespeare conjures up the theme of love and longing telling the fair lord that he is extremely important to him comparing him to the importance of food to life and seasons to nature. The poet tells him that he is in constant inner turmoil not knowing whether to enjoy the pleasures of the youth alone like a miser or share the pleasures with the world. He suffers every day hungering for the love of the youth because he either gets nothing

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare sonnet 76 Analysis, Why is my verse so barren of new pride

In Sonnet 76 Shakespeare reflects a theme of rivalry comparing him to other poets saying that unlike them he does not evolve to try out new literary styles. He puts forth the reason that since he loves the fair lord W.H., thus he is the main subject of his poems. All his poems are just new ways to express his love for the youth just like a rising and setting sun.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 77, Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear

The theme of sonnet 77 is of memories and death. In sonnet 77, Shakespeare continues from sonnet 76 dealing once again with his favorite subject the fair lord whom he tells to keep looking in a mirror as it reveals how he is aging. He advises the youth to keep a book to record all his verses which he can read again someday, By recording his poetry, he can always read his thoughts of the past which will be enriching for the book as well.

Sonnet Analysis

Shakespeare Sonnet 78 Analysis, So oft have I invoked thee for my muse

In sonnet 78, Shakespeare conjures up the theme of rivalry and jealousy to some extent where he says his poetry is everything and is because of the sole inspiration of the fair lord W.H as mentioned in the intro of a sonnet. He says other poets who may be copying him are just improving their styles whereas his poetry instead is totally dedicated to the fair youth. He was ignorant and through his poetry and being inspired by the youth he has improved and gained intelligence.

Sonnet Analysis

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