Sonnet 30

Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought

by William Shakespeare

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.

Summary of Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought

  • Popularity of “Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought”: William Shakespeare, a renowned English poet and playwright, wrote ‘Sonnet 130’. The sonnet is about love, most similar to other sonnets by Shakespeare. It was first published in 1609 in The Passionate Pilgrim. This sonnet speaks about a lonely speaker who mediates upon the time he has spent purposelessly. It also reflects his deep attachment to his friend.
  • “Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought”: This poem recounts the speaker’s regrets on his past failures. It begins when the lonely speaker sits without disturbance and recalls memories from the past. He gets disappointed upon the dreams and goals he has failed to achieve or reach. Also, he reflects upon the recent times and again gets disappointed for how he is currently utilizing his precious time. Moreover, he remembers his deceased friends, and also those who luckily escaped from the claws of death. From memory to memory, he regrets and moans over the sad memories he has already grieved. Although his heart is filled with intense emotions, yet the remembrance of his dear friend rejuvenates his doleful heart and provides him with the strength to cope with the challenges of life. What, however, stays in the minds of the readers is his deep love for his friend.
  • Major Themes in “Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought”: Friendship, disappointment, and hope are the major themes in this poem. Throughout the poem, the speaker looks back on his life and regrets his failure to achieve many things he desired for. He weeps for his friends who are no more in this world and realizes that he has wasted so much time. He also feels unhappy when he recalls the slights and insults he received in the past. However, the memory of his dear friends steal all these sorrows and still provides him hope to get along in his life.

Analysis of Literary Devices “When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought”

Literary devices are modes that represent writers’ ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Shakespeare has also used some literary devices in this poem to make it appealing. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /o/ in “And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er” and the sound of /ai/ in “But if the while I think on thee.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /g/ in “grieve at grievances foregone” and /r/ sound in “are restor’d, and sorrows.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /m/ in “I summon up remembrance of things past” and the sound of /t/ in “When to the sessions of sweet silent thought.”
  4. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought” and “And moan th’ expense of many a vanish’d sight.”
  5. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example in “Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow”, the eye is personified.
  6. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects different in nature. For example, “For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices “When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought”

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. 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 generally reveals the central idea of the poem.
  2. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “friend/end”, “night/sight”, “thought/sought” and “flow/woe.”
  3. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter having five iambs per line the poem follows iambic pentameter. For example, “When to the sessions of sweet silent
  4. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza followed by Persian poetry. There are three quatrains in the poem.
  5. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABAB rhyme scheme in the first two stanzas, whereas the couplet follows the AA rhyme scheme.
  6. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen lined poem usually written in iambic pentameter. This Shakespearean sonnet consists of three quatrains and one couplet.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below are useful for a speech delivered on the topic of “Importance of Friends in Life”.

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d, and sorrows end.”