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Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Sonnet 7

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Contents

Sonnet 1

In this first of many sonnets about the briefness of human life, the poet reminds the young man that time…

Sonnet 2

The poet challenges the young man to imagine two different futures, one in which he dies childless, the other in…

Sonnet 3

The poet urges the young man to reflect on his own image in a mirror. Just as the young man’s…

Sonnet 4

The poet returns to the idea of beauty as treasure that should be invested for profit. Here, the young man’s…

Sonnet 5

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet compares the young man to summer and its flowers, doomed to…

Sonnet 6

Continuing the argument from s. 5, the poet urges the young man to produce a child, and thus distill his own…

Sonnet 7

This sonnet traces the path of the sun across the sky, noting that mortals gaze in admiration at the rising…

Sonnet 8

The poet observes the young man listening to music without pleasure, and suggests that the young man hears in the…

Sonnet 9

The poet argues that if the young man refuses to marry for fear of someday leaving behind a grieving widow,…

Sonnet 10

This sonnet, expanding the couplet that closes s. 9, accuses the young man of a murderous hatred against himself and his…

Sonnet 11

The poet once again urges the young man to choose a future in which his offspring carry his vitality forward…

Sonnet 12

As he observes the motion of the clock and the movement of all living things toward death and decay, the…

Sonnet 13

The poet argues that the young man, in refusing to prepare for old age and death by producing a child,…

Sonnet 14

As astrologers predict the future from the stars, so the poet reads the future in the “constant stars” of the…

Sonnet 15

In the first of two linked sonnets, the poet once again examines the evidence that beauty and splendor exist only…

Sonnet 16

Continuing the thought of s. 15, the poet argues that procreation is a “mightier way” than poetry for the young man…

Sonnet 17

As further argument against mere poetic immortality, the poet insists that if his verse displays the young man’s qualities in…

Sonnet 18

In a radical departure from the previous sonnets, the young man’s beauty, here more perfect even than a day in…

Sonnet 19

The “war with Time” announced in s. 15 is here engaged in earnest as the poet, allowing Time its usual predations, forbids…

Sonnet 20

The poet fantasizes that the young man’s beauty is the result of Nature’s changing her mind: she began to create…

Sonnet 21

The poet contrasts himself with poets who compare those they love to such rarities as the sun, the stars, or…

Sonnet 22

This sonnet plays with the poetic idea of love as an exchange of hearts. The poet urges the young man…

Sonnet 23

The poet blames his inability to speak his love on his lack of self-confidence and his too-powerful emotions, and he…

Sonnet 24

This sonnet elaborates the metaphor of carrying the beloved’s picture in one’s heart. The poet claims that his eyes have…

Sonnet 25

The poet contrasts himself with those who seem more fortunate than he. Their titles and honors, he says, though great,…

Sonnet 26

The poet, assuming the role of a vassal owing feudal allegiance, offers his poems as a token of duty, apologizing…

Sonnet 27

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet complains that the night, which should be a time of rest,…

Sonnet 28

Continuing the thought of s. 27, the poet claims that day and night conspire to torment him. Though he has flattered…

Sonnet 29

The poet, dejected by his low status, remembers his friend’s love, and is thereby lifted into joy.

Sonnet 30

The poet pictures his moments of serious reflection as a court session in which his memories are summoned to appear….

Sonnet 31

The poet sees the many friends now lost to him as contained in his beloved. Thus, the love he once…

Sonnet 32

The poet imagines his poems being read and judged by his beloved after the poet’s death, and he asks that…

Sonnet 33

The poet describes the sun first in its glory and then after its being covered with dark clouds; this change…

Sonnet 34

In this sonnet the sun is again overtaken by clouds, but now the sun/beloved is accused of having betrayed the…

Sonnet 35

The poet excuses the beloved by citing examples of other naturally beautiful objects associated with things hurtful or ugly. He…

Sonnet 36

The poet accepts the fact that for the sake of the beloved’s honorable name, their lives must be separate and…

Sonnet 37

The poet feels crippled by misfortune but takes delight in the blessings heaped by nature and fortune on the beloved.

Sonnet 38

The poet attributes all that is praiseworthy in his poetry to the beloved, who is his theme and inspiration.

Sonnet 39

As in s. 36, the poet finds reasons to excuse the fact that he and the beloved are parted. First, it…

Sonnet 40

This first of three linked sonnets accuses the young man of having stolen the poet’s “love.” The poet struggles to…

Sonnet 41

The poet again tries to forgive the young man, now on the grounds that the young man could hardly have…

Sonnet 42

The poet attempts to excuse the two lovers. He first argues that they love each other only because of him;…

Sonnet 43

The poet, separated from the beloved, reflects on the paradox that because he dreams of the beloved, he sees better…

Sonnet 44

In this sonnet, which links with s. 45 to form, in effect, a two-part poem, the poet wishes that he were thought…

Sonnet 45

This sonnet, the companion to s. 44, imagines the poet’s thoughts and desires as the “other two” elements—air and fire—that make…

Sonnet 46

In this first of another pair of sonnets (perhaps a witty thank-you for the gift of a miniature portrait), the…

Sonnet 47

After the verdict is rendered (in s. 46), the poet’s eyes and heart become allies, with the eyes sometimes inviting the…

Sonnet 48

The poet contrasts the relative ease of locking away valuable material possessions with the impossibility of safeguarding his relationship with…

Sonnet 49

The poet tries to prepare himself for a future in which the beloved rejects him. When that day comes, he…

Sonnet 50

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet’s unhappiness in traveling away from the beloved seems to him reproduced…

Sonnet 51

The slow-moving horse (of s. 50) will have no excuse for his plodding gait on the return journey, for which even…

Sonnet 52

The poet likens himself to a rich man who visits his treasures rarely so that they remain for him a…

Sonnet 53

Using language from Neoplatonism, the poet praises the beloved both as the essence of beauty (its very Idea, which is…

Sonnet 54

Here the beloved’s truth is compared to the fragrance in the rose. As that fragrance is distilled into perfume, so…

Sonnet 55

Continuing the idea of the beloved’s distillation into poetry (in the couplet of s. 54), the poet now claims that his…

Sonnet 56

The poet addresses the spirit of love and then the beloved, urging that love be reinvigorated and that the present…

Sonnet 57

In this and the following sonnet, the poet presents his relationship with the beloved as that of servant and master….

Sonnet 58

This sonnet repeats the ideas and some of the language of s. 57, though the pain of waiting upon (and waiting…

Sonnet 59

The poet here plays with the idea of history as cyclical and with the proverb “There is nothing new under…

Sonnet 60

The poet meditates on life’s inevitable course through maturity to death. Everything, he says, is a victim of Time’s scythe….

Sonnet 61

The poet first wonders if the beloved is deliberately keeping him awake by sending dream images to spy on him,…

Sonnet 62

The poet accuses himself of supreme vanity in that he thinks so highly of himself. He then admits that the…

Sonnet 63

By preserving the youthful beauty of the beloved in poetry, the poet makes preparation for the day that the beloved…

Sonnet 64

Signs of the destructive power of time and decay—such as fallen towers and eroded beaches—force the poet to admit that…

Sonnet 65

In the face of the terrible power of Time, how, the poet asks, can beauty survive? And how can the…

Sonnet 66

The poet lists examples of the societal wrongs that have made him so weary of life that he would wish…

Sonnet 67

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet asks why the beautiful young man should live in a society…

Sonnet 68

Continuing the argument of s. 67, the poet sets the natural beauty of the young man against the “false art” of…

Sonnet 69

The poet tells the young man that while the world praises his outward beauty, those who look into his inner…

Sonnet 70

The poet tells the young man that the attacks on his reputation do not mean that he is flawed, since…

Sonnet 71

In this first of a series of four sonnets in which the poet addresses his own death and its effect…

Sonnet 72

Continuing from s. 71, this sonnet explains that the beloved can defend loving the poet only by speaking falsely, by giving…

Sonnet 73

The poet describes himself as nearing the end of his life. He imagines the beloved’s love for him growing stronger…

Sonnet 74

In this sonnet, which continues from s. 73, the poet consoles the beloved by telling him that only the poet’s body…

Sonnet 75

The poet compares himself to a miser with his treasure. He finds the beloved so essential to his life that…

Sonnet 76

The poet poses the question of why his poetry never changes but keeps repeating the same language and technique. The…

Sonnet 77

This sonnet seems to have been written to accompany the gift of a blank notebook. The poet encourages the beloved…

Sonnet 78

In this first of a series of three sonnets in which the poet expresses his concern that others are writing…

Sonnet 79

In this sonnet, which follows directly from s. 78, the poet laments the fact that another poet has taken his place….

Sonnet 80

The poet admits his inferiority to the one who is now writing about the beloved, portraying the two poets as…

Sonnet 81

The poet, imagining a future in which both he and the beloved are dead, sees himself as being completely forgotten…

Sonnet 82

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet again addresses the fact that other poets write in praise of…

Sonnet 83

This sonnet continues from s. 82, but the poet has learned to his dismay that his plain speaking (and/or his silence)…

Sonnet 84

The poet reiterates his claim that poems praising the beloved should reflect the beloved’s perfections rather than exaggerate them. He…

Sonnet 85

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet says that his silence in the face of others’ extravagant praise…

Sonnet 86

This final “rival poet” sonnet continues from s. 85 but echoes the imagery of s. 80. The poet explains that his silence is…

Sonnet 87

The poet writes as if his relationship with the beloved has ended—and as if that relationship had been a wonderful…

Sonnet 88

In this first of three linked sonnets in which the poet has been (or imagines himself someday to be) repudiated…

Sonnet 89

This sonnet is a detailed extension of the closing line of s. 88. The poet here lists the ways he will…

Sonnet 90

Continuing from the final line of s. 89, this sonnet begs the beloved to deliver quickly any terrible blow that awaits…

Sonnet 91

In this first of three linked sonnets, the poet sets the love of the beloved above every other treasure, but…

Sonnet 92

Continuing the argument from s. 91, the poet, imagining the loss of the beloved, realizes gladly that since even the smallest…

Sonnet 93

The poet explores the implications of the final line of s. 92. It would be easy for the beloved to be…

Sonnet 94

This sonnet describes a category of especially blessed and powerful people who appear to exert complete control over their lives…

Sonnet 95

In this first of a pair of related poems, the poet accuses the beloved of using beauty to hide a…

Sonnet 96

As in the companion s. 95, the beloved is accused of enjoying the love of many despite his faults, which youth…

Sonnet 97

In this first of three sonnets about a period of separation from the beloved, the poet remembers the time as…

Sonnet 98

The poet here remembers an April separation, in which springtime beauty seemed to him only a pale reflection of the…

Sonnet 99

This third poem about the beloved’s absence is closely linked to s. 98. In the present sonnet, the poet accuses spring…

Sonnet 100

In this first of a group of four sonnets about a period of time in which the poet has failed…

Sonnet 101

Continuing from s. 100, this poem has the muse tell the poet that the beloved needs no praise. The poet responds…

Sonnet 102

The poet defends his silence, arguing that it is a sign not of lessened love but of his desire, in…

Sonnet 103

In this fourth poem of apology for his silence, the poet argues that the beloved’s own face is so superior…

Sonnet 104

The poet ponders the beloved’s seemingly unchanging beauty, realizing that it is doubtless altering even as he watches. He warns…

Sonnet 105

Arguing that his poetry is not idolatrous in the sense of “polytheistic,” the poet contends that he celebrates only a…

Sonnet 106

The poet, in reading descriptions of beautiful knights and ladies in old poetry, realizes that the poets were trying to…

Sonnet 107

This sonnet celebrates an external event that had threatened to be disastrous but that has turned out to be wonderful….

Sonnet 108

The poet explains that his repeated words of love and praise are like daily prayer; though old, they are always…

Sonnet 109

The poet defends his infidelities, arguing that his return washes away the blemish of his having left.

Sonnet 110

The poet confesses to having been unfaithful to the beloved, but claims that his straying has rejuvenated him and made…

Sonnet 111

In this first of two linked poems, the poet blames Fortune for putting him in a profession that led to…

Sonnet 112

The pity asked for in s. 111 has here been received, and the poet therefore has no interest in others’ opinions of…

Sonnet 113

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet confesses that everything he sees is transformed into an image of…

Sonnet 114

In a continuation of s. 113, the poet debates whether the lovely images of the beloved are true or are the…

Sonnet 115

The poet acknowledges that the very fact that his love has grown makes his earlier poems about the fullness and…

Sonnet 116

The poet here meditates on what he sees as the truest and strongest kind of love, that between minds. He…

Sonnet 117

In this first of a group of four sonnets of self-accusation and of attempts at explanation, the poet lists the…

Sonnet 118

In this second sonnet of self-accusation, the poet uses analogies of eating and of purging to excuse his infidelities.

Sonnet 119

Filled with self-disgust at having subjected himself to so many evils in the course of his infidelity, the poet nevertheless…

Sonnet 120

In this fourth sonnet about his unkindness to the beloved, the poet comforts himself with the memory of the time…

Sonnet 121

The poet responds to slurs about his behavior by claiming that he is no worse (and is perhaps better) than…

Sonnet 122

This sonnet addresses the hard question of why the poet has given away the beloved’s gift of a writing tablet….

Sonnet 123

The poet repeats an idea from s. 59—that there is nothing new under the sun—and accuses Time of tricking us into…

Sonnet 124

In this difficult and much-discussed sonnet, the poet declares the permanence and wisdom of his love.

Sonnet 125

The poet, in apparent response to accusation, claims that his love (and, perhaps, his poetry of praise) is not basely…

Sonnet 126

The poet acknowledges that the beloved young man grows lovelier with time, as if Nature has chosen him as her…

Sonnet 127

The poet defends his love of a mistress who does not meet the conventional standard of beauty by claiming that…

Sonnet 128

This sonnet uses the conventional poetic idea of the poet envying an object being touched by the beloved. Here, the…

Sonnet 129

This sonnet describes what Booth calls “the life cycle of lust”—a moment of bliss preceded by madness and followed by…

Sonnet 130

This sonnet plays with poetic conventions in which, for example, the mistress’s eyes are compared with the sun, her lips…

Sonnet 131

The poet disagrees with those who say that his mistress is not beautiful enough to make a lover miserable. He…

Sonnet 132

The poet begs the mistress to model her heart after her eyes, which, because they are black as if dressed…

Sonnet 133

In this first of two linked sonnets, the pain felt by the poet as lover of the mistress is multiplied…

Sonnet 134

The poet continues to rationalize the young man’s betrayal, here using language of debt and forfeit.

Sonnet 135

In this first of two linked sonnets, the poet apparently begs his (promiscuous) mistress to allow him back into her…

Sonnet 136

In this second sonnet built around wordplay on the word will, the poet continues to plead for a place among the mistress’s…

Sonnet 137

The poet asks why both his eyes and his heart have fastened on a woman neither beautiful nor chaste.

Sonnet 138

The poet describes a relationship built on mutual deception that deceives neither party: the mistress claims constancy and the poet…

Sonnet 139

The poet, after refusing to make excuses for the mistress’s wrongs, begs her not to flirt with others in his…

Sonnet 140

The poet warns the mistress that she would be wiser to pretend to love him and thus avoid driving him…

Sonnet 141

The poet describes his heart as going against his senses and his mind in its determination to love.

Sonnet 142

The poet accuses the woman of scorning his love not out of virtue but because she is busy making adulterous…

Sonnet 143

The poet expands on s. 142.9–10 (where he pursues a mistress who pursues others) by presenting a picture of a woman…

Sonnet 144

The poet’s three-way relationship with the mistress and the young man is here presented as an allegory of a person…

Sonnet 145

In this sonnet, perhaps written when Shakespeare was very young, the poet plays with the difference between the words “I…

Sonnet 146

The poet here meditates on the soul and its relation to the body, in life and in death.

Sonnet 147

The poet describes his love for the lady as a desperate sickness.

Sonnet 148

The poet once again (as in ss. 113, 114, 137, and 141) questions his own eyesight. Here, he describes his eyes’ image of his…

Sonnet 149

The poet argues that he has proved his love for the lady by turning against himself when she turns against…

Sonnet 150

The sonnet begins with the poet’s questioning why he should love what he knows he should hate; it ends with…

Sonnet 151

The poet displays the sexually obsessive nature of his love.

Sonnet 152

The poet turns his accusations against the woman’s inconstancy and oath-breaking against himself, accusing himself of deliberate blindness and perjury.

Sonnet 153

This sonnet uses an ancient parable to demonstrate that love’s fire is unquenchable. It goes on to argue that only…

Sonnet 154

This sonnet, like s. 153, retells the parable of Cupid’s torch turning a fountain into a hot bath, this time to…

Two Sonnets from The Passionate Pilgrim

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7

Lo, in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
4Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climbed the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
8Attending on his golden pilgrimage.
But when from highmost pitch with weary car
Like feeble age he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, ’fore duteous, now converted are
12From his low tract and look another way.
 So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon,
 Unlooked on diest unless thou get a son.