Sonnet 29

Sonnet 29

by William Shakespeare

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
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;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Summary of Sonnet 29

  • Popularity of “Sonnet 29”: Sonnet 29 is one of the best sonnets written by William Shakespeare. It is famous for its themes of love and hopelessness. It was first published in 1609. The poem speaks about an unfortunate man, frustrated with the present state of his life. It also illustrates the power and impact of true love.
  • “Sonnet 29”, As a Representative of Love: This poem is about a speaker, initially downcast about fate, but becomes excited when he recalls his beloved. The poem begins with the description of the speaker’s discontent and his lamentation over the miserable plight of life. He curses his poor fate for his catastrophic condition. He feels abandoned and useless. He feels that even God is not answering his calls. Also, he is envious from the successful and talented people around him. He wishes to be rich, satisfied, and fortunate like them but meets only failures and disappointments. After cursing his present sad state, he suddenly talks about a special person, and his mood changes in a dramatic way. This thought of love provides him immense pleasure and removes his negative feelings. What, however, stays in the minds of the readers is the magical effect of love that eradicates his sorrow and makes him feel special.
  • Major Themes in “Sonnet 29”: Anxiety, love, and jealousy are the major themes of this sonnet. The poet discusses his miserable plight and the impact of love. The poem also explains how love brings optimism and hope for people who feel lonely and oppressed. In short, sonnet 29 is also about self-motivation.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Sonnet 29”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make texts more appealing to the reader. Shakespeare has also used some literary devices to bring depth in this poem. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been discussed below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /i/ in “Wishing me like to one more rich in hope” and the sound of /e/ in “Haply I think on thee, and then my state.”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I all alone beweep my outcast state” and “That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /s/ “Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising”.
  4. Personification: Personification is to attribute human characteristics to non-human or lifeless objects. For example, “From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate.” Here, Shakespeare has personified earth as if it is a human being that can sing.
  5. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. For example, “lark” stands for hope and good fortune.
  6. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /th/ in “Haply I think on thee, and then my state.”
  7. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it continues to the next line. For example,

“For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Sonnet 29”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen lined poem usually written in iambic pentameter. This Shakespearean sonnet consists of one octave and sestet.
  2. Couplet: There are two constructive lines of verse in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which usually reveals the central idea of the poem or a concluding thought.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire sonnet is ABAB CDCD EBEB FF.
  4. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter consisting of five iambs. The poem comprises of Iambic Pentameter. For example, “When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes.”

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used in a speech or lecture to glorify the positive attributes of true love.

“For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.”