A Valentine from “Will”

For Sunday Morning:

It is rather busy around our home on Sunday morning so I am posting this “Valentine” on Saturday night . . .

It will be easy for you to guess the full name of this famous British author, whose family gave him the nickname of “Will.”   He wrote 154 Love Sonnets, each of which would be perfect as the “sentiment” inside of a Hallmark card.  However, I only chose one for today.  Below the sonnet, I have included some keys to interpretation.

If you saw the film, “Sense & Sensibility,” with Emma Thompson, this sonnet will be very familiar to you.   Before the film [1994] I had never heard the poem:  When I heard Marianne [Kate Winslet] recite the sonnet, at the word, “bark,” the image of a dog floated before my eyes.  I hope at least one of my readers will assure me that I am not alone in this . . .

Sonnet 116:

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-fixèd mark


That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand’ring 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 come.

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out ev’n to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here are some clues to the interpretation of this sonnet, from The Top 500 Poems, Edited by William Harmon, Columbia Anthology:

“Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar claims to be as ‘constant as the northern star’ – that is, the Pole Star that seems not to move, while all other stars revolve around it and which can still be used in informal navigation.  Ink has been spilt over the reading of Line 8, which probably refers to the star [whose elevation or celestial altitude can be known by instruments] but may refer to the bark [ship].”

William Shakespeare (baptized 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist.  He is often called England’s national poet and the “Bard of Avon.”  His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. [Wikipedia]


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