Sonnet No. 98

It’s been a while since I posted any of Shakespeare’s sonnets. A brief mention on the radio this morning that William Shakespeare died 400 years ago this month convinced me to rectify that omission and, since it is April, I thought I’d put up this one, No. 98. As with the rest of the first 126 of these poems, it is addressed by the poet to a “fair youth”, i.e. from an older man to a younger one. These sonnets deal with such themes as love, beauty, mortality, absence and longing, framed by the affectionate relationship between two men of very different ages:

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.
Nor did I wonder at the lily’s white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seemed it winter still, and you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

 

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