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Thread: Sonnet #17

  1. #1
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    Jul 2001
    East Lansing, MI USA

    Post Sonnet #17

    Sonnet #17


    Who will believe my verse in time to come,
    If it were fill'd with your most high deserts?
    Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
    Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
    If I could write the beauty of your eyes
    And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
    The age to come would say 'This poet lies:
    Such heavenly touches ne'er touch'd earthly faces.'
    So should my papers yellow'd with their age
    Be scorn'd like old men of less truth than tongue,
    And your true rights be term'd a poet's rage
    And stretched metre of an antique song:
    But were some child of yours alive that time,
    You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme.


  2. #2
    Thinking...thinking! dramasnot6's Avatar
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    Oct 2006
    In a perpetually transitional state.
    7,102 says a lot about the nature and purpose of poetry.
    There's a certain dichotomy to this poem, it brings into question whether it is the subject of the writing or the writing itself that reflects the other.
    What makes the poem-the poet or or the muse?

    I love "old men of less truth than tongue". Plenty of young men, and women, of less truth than tongue out there,too.
    I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.

    Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

  3. #3
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    This is one of the 'have kiddies' sonnets

  4. #4
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    Jan 2016
    In the above sonnet the poet modestly confesses the inability of a man to withhold the heavenly beauty in an ordinary realm of his conception of beauty. The heaven knows that no matter how sincerely a man tries to unfurl the mysteries of beauty, certain folds will remain unfolded forever, and the yellowed pages of his literature will go down into the annals of human existence as poetic lie.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2017
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    "If I could write the beauty of your eyes" - the funny thing is, the poet never even tries to do that, does he? I wonder if Shakespeare's contemporaries had an inkling who the object of these poems was (if there even was an actual person). I don't recall him ever supplying enough description for anyone to say, "look - there goes the young man of the Sonnets."

  6. #6
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    Dec 2017
    The reflection on poetry's ability to immortalise is not uncommon. For Shakespeare, it is always a very abstract reflection. This sonnet is a classic example. As SJ VanS writes above, Shakespeare seems to talk about what he might do with poetry instead of actually doing it. Yet you'd have to be tone-deaf not to come away from this poem convinced of the subject's superlative qualities. This is what often makes Shakespeare so compelling: his sonnets invoke the idea rather than the details of an image and, in spite of such intellectualising, they still move us.

    One thing I find out-of-the-ordinary about this sonnet is Shakespeare's characterisation of himself. It is not modest; it is brutal. His poems have not gone through reprint: "my papers yellow'd with their age". Moreover he compares himself to a sophistic old man: "Be scorn'd like old men of less truth than tongue". His poems come off as written in an insensible "rage" and are not neatly versified: "And stretched metre of an antique song".

    The really troublesome part of his self-portrait is that he considers his poetry vitality is entirely contingent on his subject having a child: "But were some child of yours alive that time, / You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme." Notably, the premise of the sonnet is a "who" question and this final couplet seems to give a comprehensive answer: Shakespeare seems himself as either a comprehensive success or a comprehensive failure and the condition for either seems outside his control.

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