Tag Archives: Sonnets for Advent
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Sonnet for Advent 14: Sonnet 91

These are a few of my favourite things, but you are better than all these, Sonnet 91 seems to say. For me this sonnet is a good example of how, when imagining Shakespeare as our contemporary (perhaps in modern-dress), equivalents can easily be found. So, until line four, the aspects of life that some most […]

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Sonnet for Advent 13: Sonnet 81

Sonnet 81 itself is an epitaph and a monument in two ways. First, through the ‘gentle verse’ itself as written and printed, and as it will be read by future readers. Second, and even more powerfully, this verse-memorial comes to life whenever this sonnet is spoken aloud. The addressee – and, please note, there’s no […]

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Sonnet for Advent 12: Sonnet 80

This feels to me like a public poem, a poem competing for the attention of a patron by trying to express a more genuine and heartfelt sentiment in contrast to another’s grander verse. The mention of the ‘proudest sail’ and the image of the boat, or ‘bark’, links this sonnet with Sonnet 86 which begins: […]

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Sonnet for Advent 11: Sonnet 75

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 […]

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Sonnet for Advent 10: Sonnet 63

In trying to conquer time, the poet first imagines time’s devastating effects. The ‘love’ of this sonnet (who is definitely male) will have his blood drained, be covered in wrinkles, lose all of his beauty, and will die. But ‘confounding age’s cruel knife’ (like Time’s scythe) will never be able to cut away the memory […]

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Sonnets for Advent 9: Sonnet 55

One of the recurring themes in Shakespeare’s Sonnets is the power of his verse to help the beloved triumph against time. Here he conjures a surreal image of the beloved, pacing forth like a resurrected being among the ruins and in the face of death. Poetry itself enables this and will go on making the […]

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16th-c. stirrups found in Shakespeare's Birthplace in the early 19th c.

Sonnet for Advent 8: Sonnet 50

In Sonnet 50, Shakespeare‚Äôs unhappiness at being separated from his friend is compared to the suffering of the spurred horse that is carrying him ever further away. Surely this sonnet provides at least one example of Shakespeare writing from personal rather than invented experience. It reminds me a little of Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods […]

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Sir Frank Dicksee, 'Romeo and Juliet'

Sonnet for Advent 7: Sonnet 36

Today’s sonnet is about the difficulty of love, ‘a separable spite’ that steals ‘sweet hours from love’s delight’. The lovers – and the relationship between the poet and the addressee real or imagined seems pretty clear here – are experiencing a difficulty comparable to Romeo and Juliet: they feel ‘undivided’ yet separated by ‘public’ demands. […]

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Dame Judi Dench as the Countess

Sonnet for Advent 6: Sonnet 26

Sonnet 26 is distinctive because it is addressed to the ‘Lord of my love’ to whom the poet feels subordinate. The sonnet is presented as a ‘written embassage’ and has the quality and tone of being like a letter in verse (reminiscent perhaps of Helen’s letter to the Countess in All’s Well That End’s Well […]

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