In sonnets 18, 29, or 30, find an example of Shakespeare's deviation from structure and explain its effect.

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sonnet 29 is one of Shakespeare's most famous sonnets. It is a characteristic to be found in many of his sonnets that he deviates from the iambic pentameter lines at one turning point. In Sonnet 29, the emphasis in the following two lines is on the first syllable rather than on the second, as is standard with iambic feet.

Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising

The obvious purpose of deviation from straight iambic pentameter is to introduce an entirely new mood, which is in sharp contrast to all the morbid thoughts that have led up to it. The poet haply remembers the person he loves and his mood changes to one of supreme happiness. He wouldn't exchange his state with kings.

There is only one figure of speech in the entire sonnet. It is appropriate that the meter should be slightly changed here to prepare for it. It is one of the most beautiful similes Shakespeare ever created.

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,|
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;

One of the features that makes these lines so beautiful is the alliteration of "S" sounds which simulate the notes of a skylark singing as it flies all the way up to heaven. These "S" sounds are seen and heard in "arising," "sullen," "sings," "hymns," and "heaven's." There are actually six "S" sounds, because the "S" in "sings" can be heard twice. 

 

 

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Shakespeare's Sonnets

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