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What is the theme and structure of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29?

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thecriminalmind | Student, Grade 10 | eNoter

Posted February 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM via web

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What is the theme and structure of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29?

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 27, 2013 at 12:13 AM (Answer #1)

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“Sonnet 29” by William Shakespeare is one of the 129 poems written for a mystery man. In the thirteenth line of the poem, the poet describes the subject of the poem as “they sweet love remembered.” Despite its initial negativity, the poem becomes a love poem for someone that is greatly admired.

The form and structure of the poem is the English or Shakespearean sonnet. The sonnet expresses an idea and emotion. With  fourteen lines, the poem is divided into three quatrains with an ending couplet.   The poem has a “volta” or turning point at the beginning of the third quatrain which implies that the poem has built to a climatic point. The rhyming follows a set pattern:  ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Theme and Summary

The poet is depressed because of something that he has done which makes him feel alone and outcast by his peers. His prayers to God he feels are unanswered. He looks at himself and feels damned by his lack of good luck.

When, in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes

I all alone beweep my outcast state…

The speaker envies someone that feels more hopeful in his outlook on life. He also wishes that he were like this same person who has friends, artistic talent, and vision about things that he normally enjoys but does not like now.

Now, the turn---

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee,

However, the speaker almost hates himself because he has these thoughts. Happily or by chance, his thoughts turn to his lover; then, his attitude changes as though a  lark were singing at the break of day from the earth but sounds like hymns sung in heaven.

The love of this man brings such joy that he would not change places with crowned royalty.

The theme emphasizes the depressed man who sees nothing good in life until he thinks about the man whose love brings him great happiness.

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