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

Shakespeare sonnet 8

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Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lov’st thou that which thou receiv’st not gladly,
Or else receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing;
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: “Thou single wilt prove none.”

Shakespeare Sonnet 8 analysis

Shakespeare compares procreation and family to beauty and music. He addresses a youth asking him why he can’t realize the beauty of life around him that is like music “why do you not gladly love the music you hear”. He asks if the youth only prefers irritation “receiv’st with pleasure thine annoy”.

He compares marriage to a concord or harmonious melody “of well-tuned sounds, by unions married” and asks the youth if he finds this offensive to him, “do offend thine ear”. He says that the melody is only scolding the youth politely “sweetly chide thee,” reminding him that it is impossible to create the harmony of a family by being single “confounds in singleness

He compares a family to the strings of a harp “Mark how one string”, the strings resemble husbands, wife and children “Resembling sire and child and happy mother” which together produce the single melody of a happy family. “Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing”

The melody of a happy family is like a silent but unified harmonious tune “speechless song” “ being many, seeming one”. He says the harmony of a happy family will prove to man that choosing to remain single achieves nothing “Thou single wilt prove none.

Complete Shakespeare Sonnets

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