Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now;
Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross,
Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow,
And do not drop in for an after-loss:
Ah! do not, when my heart hath ‘scaped this sorrow,
Come in the rearward of a conquered woe;
Give not a windy night a rainy morrow,
To linger out a purposed overthrow.
If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last,
When other petty griefs have done their spite,
But in the onset come: so shall I taste
At first the very worst of fortune’s might;
And other strains of woe, which now seem woe,
Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so.
Summary of Sonnet 90
- Popularity of “Sonnet 90”: Written by William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 90” is one of the 154 sonnets that were published in a quarto in 1609 under the title Shake-Speares Sonnets. The publication of this collection is considered to be one of the most enigmatic and controversial events in Shakespearean studies. “Sonnet 90” is one of the more famous and often-quoted sonnets in the collection, with its themes of jealousy, love, and betrayal continuing to resonate with readers today.
- “Sonnet 90” As a Representative of Love: “Sonnet 90” by William Shakespeare is a poignant representation of love that is all-encompassing and all-consuming. The speaker, who happens to be Shakespeare himself, implores his lover to hate him now, at a time when the world seems to be against him and his deeds. He asks his lover to join forces with the spite of fortune to bring him down but to not come in later, as an afterthought, to add to his already conquered woes. The speaker goes on to express that if his lover must leave him, then he asks that he not be left last, after other petty grievances have done their damage, but rather to come at the outset so that he may experience the full brunt of fortune’s might. The speaker concludes that compared to the loss of his lover, all other strains of woe will not seem as difficult to bear.
- Major Themes in “Sonnet 90”: William Shakespeare explores several major themes such as love, change, and loss. The first theme is the inevitability of change and loss. The speaker acknowledges that at some point, his lover may turn against him, and he implores him to do it now while he can still bear it. He warns against delaying the pain, which will only make it worse. This sense of impermanence is also reflected in the imagery of a “windy night” and “rainy morrow,” suggesting the transience of happiness and the likelihood of sorrow. Another is the depth of the speaker’s love for their lover.
The speaker pleads with their lover not to leave him and come quickly if he must go, showing that the speaker would rather endure the pain of separation sooner rather than later. Another theme is the idea that the speaker’s love for his lover is unique and irreplaceable. The loss of the lover is presented as the ultimate woe that cannot be compared to any other form of suffering. This is evident in the line “And other strains of woe, which now seem woe, / Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so (lines 13-14).”
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Sonnet 90
- Antithesis: This is the use of contrasting concepts or words to highlight their differences. For example, the line “And other strains of woe, which now seem woe, / Compared with loss of thee, will not seem so” (lines 13-14) shows contrasting concepts of “strains of woe” and “loss of thee” emphasizing the magnitude of the speaker’s love and the pain of losing their lover.
- Assonance: It is the repetition of vowel sounds in words in close proximity. The example of line “Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross” (line 2) shows the repetition of the /o/ sound, creating a musical effect.
- Consonance: It is the repetition of consonant sounds in words in close proximity, especially at the end of words. “If thou wilt leave me, do not leave me last” (line 9) shows this repetition of /t/ and /l/ sounds.
- Hyperbole: It is the use of exaggeration for emphasis or effect. For example, “At first the very worst of fortune’s might” (line 12) shows a hyperbole emphasizing the speaker’s desire to experience the full extent of their misfortune in losing their lover.
- Metaphor: It is a comparison between two things without using “like” or “as”. An example of it is in the line “Give not a windy night a rainy morrow” (line 7), showing the metaphor a “windy night.”
- Personification: It is the attribution of human qualities to inanimate objects or abstract concepts. For example, “Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow” (line 3) shows the personification of “fortune” emphasizing the idea of the world and external forces working against the speaker.
- Repetition: The repeating of words or phrases for emphasis or effect. For example, “Now” is repeated at the beginning of line 2 and end of line 1, emphasizing the urgency and immediacy of the speaker’s request to their lover.
- Symbolism: The “petty griefs” mentioned in line 9 can be seen as symbols of smaller struggles or hardships that the speaker has faced before.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Sonnet 90
Although poetic devices are part of literary devices, some of them differ in nature. With the help of poetic devices, the poet sets the mood of the poem and gives his text an indirect meaning. The analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem is as follows.
- Diction: Diction refers to the choice of words and style of expression used in a literary work. In “Sonnet 90,” the language used is formal and eloquent, which is typical of Shakespearean sonnets. For example, the use of phrases such as “spite of fortune,” “windy night,” and “purposed overthrow” demonstrate the poet’s skill in using elevated language.
- End Rhyme: End rhyme refers to the repetition of similar sounds at the end of successive lines of poetry. In “Sonnet 90,” the end rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. For example, the words “now” and “bow” in the second quatrain and “woe” and “so” in the final couplet all have similar sounds at the end.
- Meter: Meter refers to the pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in a line of poetry. “Sonnet 90” is written in iambic pentameter, which means each line has ten syllables with alternating unstressed and stressed syllables. For example, the first line reads: “Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, Now.” The stressed syllables are indicated by bold letters.
- Rhyme Scheme: Rhyme scheme refers to the pattern of rhyming words in a poem. In “Sonnet 90,” the rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
- Poem: The poem is a Shakespearean sonnet, also known as an English sonnet. It consists of three quatrains and a final couplet.
- Stanza: “Sonnet 90” consists of three quatrains and a final couplet. Each quatrain has four lines, and the final couplet has two lines.
- Tone: The tone of “Sonnet 90” is melancholic and resigned. The speaker urges his beloved to leave him now, at the height of his misfortunes, rather than later, when he has already been defeated. The tone is reflective of the speaker’s sense of inevitability and his acceptance of the end of the relationship.
Quotes to be Used
This quote could be used in a situation where a friend or loved one is going through a difficult time and feeling alone.
Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now”