Read the following poems by William Shakespeare and write an essay about the poems in which you address the following questions.
How does the poem work? How would you explicate its meaning? What does the poem accomplish aesthetically, intellectually, and/or philosophically?
If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote, where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth remov’d from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land,
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But, ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought,
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan;
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.
The other two, slight air, and purging fire
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
These present-absent with swift motion slide.
For when these quicker elements are gone
In tender embassy of love to thee,
My life, being made of four, with two alone
Sinks down to death, oppress’d with melancholy;
Until life’s composition be recured
By those swift messengers return’d from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assured
Of thy fair health, recounting it to me:
This told, I joy; but then no longer glad,
I send them back again, and straight grow sad.
Shakespeare, the most renowned writer of the sonnet form, uses a variety of poetic conventions to convey the theme of his poem. The central theme is the separation of 2 people by a great distance which leads to much lament and sorrow and a longing for the other person. The poet uses rhyme, figures of speech, imagery, symbols, repetition and rhythm to communicate his thoughts and ideas.
In Sonnet 44, he uses personification when he states that a thought can jump both land & sea. He also regrets that he cannot be a thought & jump the land & sea to see the other person. End rhyme is used throughout the 14 lines of the each sonnet. The 2 symbols of his life, water & earth, add to the symbolism of the poem. The tone of the poem conveyed is one of melancholy & saddness. His use of diction aptly projects these thoughts.
In Sonnet 45, Shakespeare continues his effective use of rhythm & end rhyme. He also continues with the other 2 symbols of his life which are air & fire. He uses fire as a metaphor describing his burning desire for other person. This creates imagery in the mind of the reader.
Iambic pentameter is used effectively throughout the poem helping to create the sad tone & mood. The rhythmic beat is used most effectively by Shakespeare to further convey the theme of poem