Shakespeare: Sonnet 29





Shakespeare: Sonnet 29

            Sonnet 29 is one of the 154 poems written by William Shakespeare all referred to as Sonnets. A sonnet is a poem that is characterized by fourteen lines and a distinct rhyme scheme and structure. This specific sonnet is characterized with much ambiguity, as the poet is not seen to refer to neither anyone nor himself. The poem depicts a troubled mind and an insecure person. The persona depicts how they feel very jealous of other people. They also lack value for his/her life since they wish to have someone else’s life. The sonnet depicts a sad somber mood and a time of self-reflection for the poet.

Due to the ambiguity of whom the poem was referring to, it is assumed that the poem was about the poet, William Shakespeare. He described moments of great dullness and solitude. When he refers to his state of being outcast, he refers to several things among which is his societal standing, which he did not enjoy, and his lack of success mostly financially and in the poetry field. At that period in time when he is believed to have written the poem, the London theatres had been closed due to an epidemic of the plague and thus this is one of the explanations for his lack of success. At the same period in 1592, a playwright Robert Greene had publicly criticized Shakespeare and this criticism might have weighed heavily on him. The layman explanation for terming himself an outcast was simply because he was.

The poem also expresses the poet’s endless unanswered prayers. This is seen where he terms his prayers as cries, which are bootless. He believes that he bothers heaven with his prayers since he says that he troubles heaven with his exhortations. He also believes that heaven does not hear his prayers since he terms it as deaf. The speaker shows no signs of having any hope and he has no faith that his prayers shall or can be answered. Shakespeare also reveals his dissatisfaction with the things that previously he enjoyed the most. The poem then takes a twist when the speaker remembers someone, perceived to be an old friend of his and acquires a more optimistic approach to his life. The speaker happens to have a good relationship with the acquaintance since he depicts very fond memories of him that he likens to the view of the sun rising. He states that the remembrance of the love they share made him value his life and view it to be more important than that of a king.

The poem depicts the speaker as a person who has brought the misery on himself since he expresses his jealousy for the people who have hope in their lives and those who have friends. This creates a scenario where the speaker is perceived by the reader as being quite lonely. However, the speaker later makes the reader ignore his sadness due to his sudden shift from emotion to happiness. This occurs when he remembers his friend and shows that the speaker has some sort of mood swings. The speaker however creates several different views when he speaks of his beloved. This is because he is alone in the whole poem yet he speaks of an immense love that he speaks of from memory. The reader is then left to wonder if the person the speaker is talking about actually knows him or it is the speaker who is attached to them emotionally.

Fortune seems to have evaded the speaker and this becomes the cause of his jealousy and covetous nature. The speaker is left contented with his state of being miserable and lacking in inspiration. Another view of the immense love that the speaker feels is that, he becomes rejuvenated by it and finds solace in it. All his coveting and lusting after material things diminishes and he focuses on the love that he feels and remembers so well. This view shows the speaker as to have presented a conflict and then resolved it by the use of love. The poem centrally revolves around the life of the speaker. His trials, his lusts, his wishes and his love are all discussed in the poem.

In terms of religion, two arguments can be put across. In one, the speaker recognizes that there is heaven. He states that heaven does not hear his intimations and when he is reborn, he sings songs of praise at the gates of heaven. This first argument shows that the speaker is actually religious and believes in the worldly religion where there is a heaven. The second argument is that the speaker is disappointed by heaven and God, and he believes that the person for whom he has love redeems. This argument therefore suggests that the speaker believes in his own religion. It also argues that the poem is not religious at all and suggests that without heaven and God there still exists a happy place where people sing hymns of joy and that place is superior to religion.

Generally, the Sonnet 29 is about a depressed speaker who believes himself as having bad luck and being disliked by the people. The speaker also believes himself to be an outcast from society. The speaker calls out to a grater power in which he greatly believes in to no avail. He curses his fate and becomes hopeless after his only hope fails him. The poem talks about a speaker who is quite envious of other’s belongings and sees everyone else as having something that he does not. He wishes for riches, good looks and popularity, artistic talent and great opportunities. He later becomes transformed after he thinks about the love he has for his friend and the effect it has on him. His newly found happiness lifts his spirits and ego so high that he regards himself greater than he regards royalty.

Shakespeare wrote the Sonnets at a time of his life when he had very little opportunities due to the calamities that had faced his land and therefore the Sonnet 29 expresses just a little of the suffering he was going through at the time. He uses the poem to express his sentiments, good and bad and to declare his love for his friend. The Sonnet has a sad mood that is later heaved off the speaker’s chest by the thought of an amazing love.

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