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William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. Shakespeare dedicated “Sonnet I to 109 to a fair young lord with whom he had an intense relationship. “Sonnet 109” presents the deep feelings and emotions of the poet.
“Sonnet 109” represents the Shakespearean sonnet to perfection. This type of sonnet is also a lyric poem concerned primarily with a romantic theme. The sonnet contains fourteen lines with three quatrains and a couplet at the end. Each of the fourteen lines of an English sonnet is composed in ten syllables of iambic pentameter which means that each line has a pair of syllables, an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable. The traditional rhyme scheme is ABABCDCDEFEFGG. The ninth line is called a turn because the subject shifts slightly.
The tone of the poem is apologetic and reassuring. Thematically, the sonnet emphasizes the affection that the poet holds for the young man. With his absence the fair lord may have felt that the poet’s love had waned.
The narrator denies that he has any insincerity in his affection for his lover. Three times the poet declares that no matter where he may travel — both physically and in his thoughts — he will always return to the youth, for the young man is his alter ego
The sonnet seems to spring from an accusation of unfaithfulness. An accusation which the poet denies. Lovingly, he explains that he can never separate himself from this young lord.
To leave for nothing all thy sum of good:
For nothing this wide universe I call,
Save though, my rose; in it thou art my all...
Admittedly, the poet has sensual feelings; however, how could his young man believe that he would act on those lusts if it would separate the two of them. The universe is nothing unless the poet has the fair lord there with him.
Shakespeare used the metaphor of the flame to represent the warmth of his love for his lover. Another comparison points up the lover’s breast as the home where he keeps his soul and love. Alliteration was used to add to the rhythm and emphasize certain points:
Never believe, though in my nature reign'd
All frailities that besiege all kind of blood...
As in all of his sonnets dedicated to the fair lord, Shakespeare makes clear his love and admiration for him.
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