Shakespeare Sonnet 128 Analysis: How oft when thou, my music, music play’st

Shakespeare Sonnet 128 Analysis, summary, theme and modern English translation

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 128. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets.

Shakespeare Sonnet 128 (Original Text)

How oft when thou, my music, music play’st
Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway’st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy’ those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,
At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand.
To be so tickled they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 128 Modern English (Translation)

Shakespeare Sonnet 128 modern English translation

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 128 Analysis

The poet addresses his love saying Hw often when she who is the source of his music plays music “How oft when thou, my music, music play’st “by moving the wooden keys of the virginal (instrument) he considers blessed “Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds” with her beautiful fingers that sway gently over the instrument “With thy sweet fingers, when thou gently sway’st” to the point of confusing him which is sweeter, her movements r the harmony of the musical instrument “The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,”

He wonders if he should envy the string that seem to leap each time she plucks them when playing “Do I envy’ those jacks that nimble leap” they seem to kiss the underside of her tender hand “To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,” which is what his deprived lips should be doing “Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap,” instead they blush while standing and observing the boldness of the keys “At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand.”

His lips would change their state of being to be touched like the keys of the instrument “To be so tickled they would change their state” into the same state as he wooden dancing keys “And situation with those dancing chips,” over which his love’s fingers move gently “O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,” and transforming a dead object into a blessed thing than his own living lips “Making dead wood more blest than living lips.”

And it seems the wooden keys and strings are happy at this situation “Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,” but he asks his love to just let them have use of her fingers while he the poet will possess her lips that are his to kiss “Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.”

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