Shakespeare‘s Sonnets – Still of Topical Interest? Four sonnets concerning ‘love’ → Eternity of Love → Procreation → Physical Desire → Adultery
All in all 154 sonnets First published 1609 Addressees → Young Man → Dark Lady
For shame deny that thou bear’st love to any, Who for thyself art so unprovident. Grant if thou wilt, thou art belov’d of many, But that thou none lov’st is most evident; For thou art so possessed with murd'rous hate That ‘gainst thyself thou stick’st not to conspire, Seeking that beauteous roof to ruinate Which to repair should be thy chief desire. O change thy thought, that I may change my mind. Shall hate be fairer lodged than gentle love? Be as thy presence is, gracious and kind, Or to thyself at least kind-hearted prove. Make thee another self for love of me, That beauty still may live in thine or thee.
Addressee → Young Man Beautiful → loved by others Self-destructive hate Speaker wants the Young Man to change Supposed to pass on genes Reasons to have children have changed Topicality:
A) Adultery B) Eternal Love C) Procreation D) Physical Desire
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done. Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud; Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun, And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud. All men make faults, and even I in this, Authórizing thy trespass with compare, Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss, Excusing these sins more than these sins are. For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense— Thy adverse party is thy advocate— And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence. Such civil war is in my love and hate That I an áccessory needs must be To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.
Addressee → Young Man Has cheated on someone Feelings of speaker for Young Man are expressed → excuses his mistake Being unfaithful is still a common topic today Topicality:
A) Adultery B) Eternal Love C) Physical Desire
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove. O no, it is an ever-fixèd mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wand'ring bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Description of the concept of love → love is not impaired by time Author is sure that true love exists The concept of love has basically not changed in the course of time Topicality:
Love is too young to know what conscience is, Yet who knows not conscience is born of love? Then, gentle cheater, urge not my amiss, Lest guilty of my faults thy sweet self prove; For, thou betraying me, I do betray My nobler part to my gross body’s treason. My soul doth tell my body that he may Triumph in love—flesh stays no father reason, But, rising at thy name, doth point out thee As his triumphant prize—proud of this pride, He is contented thy poor drudge to be, To stand in thy affairs, fall by thy side. No want of conscience hold it that I call Her “love” for whose dear love I rise and fall.
Addressee → Dark Lady Speaker is not ashamed of his lustrous feelings for his mistress Considers fleshly desire as normal → Speaker claims that mistress has the same feelings Physical desire ordinary component of love Topicality:
Topics in general still up-to-date Rather provisional than contemporary Not afraid to tackle delicate themes Today’s values & views are basically shared Shakespeare’s sonnets still of topical interest