Sonnet for Advent 11: Sonnet 75

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Photo: backwoodscrazyquilt.blogspot.com

Photo: backwoodscrazyquilt.blogspot.com

It was quite a telling moment when our reader today, Professor Michael Dobson, and I chatted about how to illustrate this sonnet. The abiding and extended image is of a miser, struggling to find peace with his wealth. This is how the poet feels with love: somewhere between enjoyment and doubt. The gaze of the addressee (a ‘you’ rather than a ‘thee’, who could be male or female) helps to feed to poet, too – perhaps reminiscent of Helena for her Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1.1.226-245). In the end, we decided to accompany the sonnet with an image of April showers, which affirms the constancy and graciousness of feeding that the poet is evoking, however that might make him feel.

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet-seasoned showers are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As ‘twixt a miser and his wealth is found.
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight,
And by and by clean starved for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight
Save what is had, or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

Click on the post below to hear Sonnet 75 being read by Professor Michael Dobson, Director of The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham.

You might like to visit a similar Shakespeare for Advent project led by students at the University of Tubingen by clicking here.

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Author:Paul Edmondson

Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Follow Paul on Twitter @paul_edmondson

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