Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Please write a short commentary on William Shakespeare's "Sonnet 14."

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In Shakespeare's "Sonnet 14," the speaker begins by saying that he cannot "pluck" judgement, or knowledge, from the stars, even though he understands astrology. He says he is unable to predict or "tell of good or evil luck, /Of plagues, or dearths." Neither can he read the heavens for knowledge of each man's fortune, be it, metaphorically, "thunder, rain . . . [or] wind." In the seventeenth century, many people believed that the fortunes of people and societies could be determined by the movements of the stars.

In the second half of the sonnet, the speaker says that it is only from "thine eyes" (the eyes of the person he is addressing) that he can "derive" his "knowledge." He says that this person's eyes are his "constant stars." This is likely a reference to the North Star, which always appears to be in the same place in the night sky—sailors use it to navigate their courses through the oceans. The speaker also says that in this person's eyes, "truth and beauty . . . together thrive."

At the end of the poem, the speaker entreats the addressee to turn his attention "to store," meaning that he should think about procreating, so that the beauty and truth in his eyes can live on. Otherwise, the speaker says, the day of his death will also be the day that truth and beauty dies, or, as the speaker puts it, "truth and beauty's doom and date." This is a love poem. The speaker is declaring his love for this person because he finds, in his eyes, a knowledge and a beauty that he can't find anywhere else.

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