Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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What does this poem mean?  Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove: O no! It is an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempest and is never shaken; it is the star to every wandering bark, whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass some: love alters not with brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, not no man ever loved.

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The speaker says that he does not want to acknowledge any impediment that might prevent two people in love from being together. We cannot call a feeling love if that feeling changes when we change or go away. No, real love is constant, like something that is fixed and immovable and cannot be altered, or like a star that guides ships at sea. Love is not subject to time, and it does not diminish when the object of one's love grows old or loses their beauty or innocence. Love does not change over the course of our short lives, but it endures and goes on and on until the end of time. Finally, the speaker says that if he is wrong about any of these ideas about love, then he's never written and no one has ever truly loved.

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Regan Cole eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This poem talks about the steadfast and eternal nature of true love. It says that:


1) Love is not fickle; it does not change when situations change. It's not a here today, gone tomorrow kind of thing.


2) Even in the worst of times, love is always there, shining in the dark. It's like a star in the darkest night that will help you through the worst of times.


3) Time has no influence on the strength of love. It doesn't ever fade or diminish. Even unto death, true love survives.


4) All these things are immortal truths; facts that will never and can never be denied.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The basic idea of this sonnet (Sonnet 116) is that love is constant and unchanging.

The first quatrain says that love does not change, no matter what the circumstance.

The second quatrain describes love as a fixed star that can always be depended on by ships to guide them home and as a mark that can't be moved even by a storm.

The third quatrain talks about how love doesn't diminish over time -- it's not just about loving the beautiful looks that come with youth.

Finally, the couplet says that if his definition of love is wrong, then love has never existed.

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