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

Shakespeare Sonnet 54

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 54. 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 54 (Original Text)

O how much more doth beauty beauteous seem
By that sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odor which doth in it live.
The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye
As the perfumèd tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly,
When summer’s breath their maskèd buds discloses;
But for their virtue only is their show,
They live unwooed, and unrespected fade,
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odors made;
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth;
When that shall vade, my verse distills your truth.
WIKI

Shakespeare Sonnet 54 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 54

Shakespeare Sonnet 54 Analysis

The poet says that beauty can seem even more beautiful “more doth beauty beauteous” when it is enhanced with the virtues of truth and integrity “ornament which truth doth give.” A rose is beautiful “rose looks fair” but we regard it even sweeter “fairer we it deem” because of its scent “sweet odor, which doth in it live”

Wildflowers “canker blooms” are also as deep in color “have full as deep a dye” as a fragrant rose, “As the perfumed tincture” they have the same type of thorns “Hang on such thorns” and their beauty is also displayed “play as wantonly” when the summer season opens out their buds in bloom “summer’s breath their masked buds discloses”

However the only good thing about wildflowers is their looks “their virtue only is their show” which is why no one wants them “They live unwoo’d” nor respects them “unrespected fade” They die alone “Die to themselves” unlike roses “sweet roses do not so” which do not share the same fate. When roses die, “of their sweet deaths” they are again used in perfumes as their petals have the same lovely scent “sweetest odors made”

In the same way, he says his friend the beautiful youth “beauteous and lovely youth” can be compared to the beauty of roses and when he dies, “When that shall vade” the poet’s poems will make him live on forever like the odors of the rose “my verse distills your truth”

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