Sonnet 116 Analysis and summary: Shakespeare’s sonnet 116, Let Me Not To The Marriage of True Minds was published in 1609. Shakespeare wrote around 154 sonnets in his career. His sonnets are basically on the theme of beauty, the passage of time, love, and mortality. His first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young man. And the next 28 to a woman.
The initial 126 sonnets written about the young man expressed profound love. The matter of debate has always been whether it remained platonic or became physical.
Most of his sonnets were dedicated to someone known as ‘Mr. W.H.’. But the identity of Mr. W.H hasn’t been found yet. Here’s a snippet of a sonnet where the dedication has been done to Mr. W.H.
“To the onlie begetter of
These insuing sonnets
Mr. W.H. all happinesse
And that eternitie
Our ever-living poet
The Sonnet 116 has been valued in the past four hundred years for its enthusiastic and encouraging note. Let’s move to the Sonnet 116 analysis and summary.
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Sonnet 116 Analysis And Summary
Line No. 1-4:
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
The poet begins the sonnet by stating that one should not stand in the way of a marriage of true minds. Love cannot be true if it changes for any reason. Despite difficulties, love must be constant. True love must never fade with time. It’s a kind of entity which never changes. Love is not going to alter in any situation.
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
Distance is not going to hamper their bond. Impediments like physical presence do not matter in case of true love. They are going to have the bond of love in their heart and as a consequence, they can keep their relationship almighty even during their physical nonexistence.
Line No. 5-8:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
The bond of love is compared with an ‘ever-fixed mark’. For example, The lighthouse in a sea gives light to the ships at the night. It is not going to change or get away from its position due to the tempests. Because of the sea waves or other factors, the lighthouse will not be moving from its destined position. Just like the lighthouse, the beautiful bond of love is never shaken by any sort of interferences.
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
The poet now compares love to a star. The barks which are wandering here and there are given direction by the star. The worth of the North Star is not being realized. Its importance is much more as it provides direction to the ones who pass from one place to another. They have actually made the star a reference point. The star is symbolizing the beautiful bond of love which is giving direction to the ones who are wandering here and there.
Although the star does not have a materialistic worth, it possesses a lot of spiritual and moralistic worth.
Line No. 9-12:
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love is not bounded and restricted by time. Just like a compass with two legs keeps moving in opposite path, a participant of the bond of love must have to be stable so that the other can slightly bend and move ahead and do something beneficial for their life. This shows the mode of understanding towards each other.
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks
But bears it out even to the edge of doom
The above lines give us a beautiful message that love is also about support. Love never binds us to anything. One has to grow and prosper on their own. Love is such a bond that it will stay until the end of their life.
Line No. 13-14:
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
In this couplet, the poet actually challenges everyone out there to prove the quatrain wrong. He says that if his bond of love is proven wrong then he’ll not write or compose such sonnets ever again.
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