This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 45. 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.
Shakespeare Sonnet 45 (Original Text)
The other two, slight air and purging fire,Are both with thee, wherever I abide;The first my thought, the other my desire,These present absent with swift motion slide.For when these quicker elements are goneIn tender embassy of love to thee,My life, being made of four, with two aloneSinks down to death, oppressed with melancholy;Until life’s composition be recuredBy those swift messengers returned from thee,Who ev’n but now come back again, assuredOf thy fair health, recounting it to me.This told, I joy, but then no longer glad,I send them back again and straight grow sad.
Shakespeare Sonnet 45 Modern Text (Translation)
Shakespeare Sonnet 45 Analysis
Shakespeare compares his present condition to the four elements The other two, saying that both air and fire “air and purging fire”, are with his beloved “with thee” and wherever he is “wherever I abide” then his thoughts are like air “first my thought” and his desire is as strong as fire “other my desire,” Both together rush back and forth between him and his beloved swiftly and easily “present-absent with swift motion”
when these two elements of air and fire leave him “quicker elements are gone” to travel to his beloved as if on an errand of love “embassy of love to thee” then his body which is made up of four elements (earth water air and fire) “My life, being made of four” is left with just two “being left with two alone” and that makes him sink into depression “oppress’d with melancholy;”
until the balance is restored “Until life’s composition be recurred” with the return of the other two “messengers return’d from thee” who have returned to him from his beloved and who assure him “come back again, assured” that his love is in good health “thy fair health” and speak to him about his love “recounting it to me”
and though he rejoices to hear the good news, “This told, I joy” he is no longer happy “no longer glad” and sends them back again “I send them back” to his love which again makes him sad “and straight grow sad.”