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


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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 61. 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 61 (Original Text)

Is it thy will thy image should keep open
My heavy eyelids to the weary night?
Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,
While shadows like to thee do mock my sight?
Is it thy spirit that thou send’st from thee
So far from home into my deeds to pry,
To find out shames and idle hours in me,
The scope and tenor of thy jealousy?
O no; thy love, though much, is not so great.
It is my love that keeps mine eye awake,
Mine own true love that doth my rest defeat,
To play the watchman ever for thy sake.
For thee watch I whilst thou dost wake elsewhére,
From me far off, with others all too near.

Shakespeare Sonnet 61 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 61 Modern Text Translation

Shakespeare Sonnet 61 Analysis


The poet asks the fair lord if it is his wish “is it thy will thy image” to torture the poet with his memories “thy image should keep open” that prevents the poet from sleeping every night. “to the weary night?” He asks does the youth want the poet‘s sleep to be taunted and disturbed “Dost thou desire my slumbers should be broken,” by shadows that resemble the youth’s appearance “While shadows like to thee” and who mock his condition “mock my sight?”

He wonders if it’s the youth who is projecting his spirit “Is it thy spirit from afar” So far from home to come and pry into the poets affairs “into my deeds to pry”, and see what he is up to, and to find out if he is indulging in any shameful acts “find out shames” and wasting his time “idle hours in me,” and by doing so is the youth jealous “The scope and tenor of thy jealousy?”

He then affirms that it isn’t possible because the youth doesn’t love him that much “thy love, though much is not so great to do such things,” it is he the poet who loves the youth a lot and that is what keeps him awake “my love that keeps mine eye awake” thinking such thoughts, it is his love that defeats his ability to sleep “doth my rest defeat,” and keeps him awake like a watchman at night for the sake of the youth “play the watchman ever for thy sake.”

He says that while he is awake, “For thee watch I” the youth is also awake somewhere but far away from him, “From me far off” although he is always close to others near him “others all too near.”

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