Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition)
Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 is a beloved, often-remembered, often-quoted poem simply because it is an exquisite description of the pain of nostalgia, an experience which is common to most of humankind. The human psyche does not want to let go of the experiences of its past, even when that experience was exceedingly painful, or perhaps especially because it was painful, since somehow the hurt has increased the meaning of the moment. It certainly has increased its intensity. The release which dissipates such remembered pain is also a welcome experience, and the reader of Shakespeare’s sonnet experiences that release as the tension built up in the first twelve lines of the poem disappears in the recollection of a current, fulfilling friendship.
The poem is meaningful also because of its inclusion in the most famous collection of sonnets in the English language, if not in any language. Though almost no scholars believe that Shakespeare himself was responsible for the order in which the sonnets were printed, this poem does belong to the early group which were addressed to a young man. It also has a close relationship with the sonnet immediately preceding it and the one that follows, pointing to the probability that these were written together. Sonnet 29 has the same thought progression as 30, as the poet laments the fact that Fortune has not been kind to him and wishes that he might change places with anyone a bit higher on her wheel. When the thought of his...
(The entire section is 395 words.)
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