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Sonnet 66

4. 11. 2009

Tired with all these, for restful death I cry,
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And guilded honour shamefully misplaced,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly doctor-like controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall'd simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

 Sonnet 66 is one of 154 sonnets written by famous English writer William Shakespeare. It is considered to be one of his most famous sonnets, especially in continental Europe where it is widely spread and known.

 Concerning the position of this sonnet, it belongs to the Fair Youth consequence. The Fair Youth is an unnamed young man who was loved by Shakespeare. In consequence of loving language in his sonnets was the poet suggested to be a homosexual.

 Compared to the Italian sonnet, which is also known as Petrarchan, it is as the English sonnet, except typical 14 lines which are obligatory, different. There is used diversed rhyming scheme and structure. The Italian sonnet consists the octave (8 lines), which describes a problem, and the sestet (6 lines), which offers a solution, whereas the English sonnet is composed of three quatrains and the couplet. The third quatrain includes the volta, unexpected thematic turn, and in Shakespearan sonnets the couplet summarizes the theme or offers a fresh look at it. The usual rhyme scheme is abba, abba, cde, cde in Italian sonnet and abab, cdcd, efe, gg in the English one. As an attentive eye could notice, Sonnet 66 is not written in a typical English form. Shakespeare uses here another structure – the final turn finishes the entire poem in the last verse.

 Regarding the content of this sonnet, it is completely pessimistic. The poet complains about the dishonesty, evil and unfairness of the world where the only sense is his lover. The author is disgusted by the situation in the society and finds the only resort in “restful death”. He expresses the injustice of the renaissance Britain in time of Elizabeth I. in the second and third verse by the beautiful methonymy (“as to behold desert a beggar born”) and metaphore (“needy nothing trimmed in jollity”). With these is pronounced that poor people do not have any opportunities whereas the rich have everything they want. The same idea occurs in the fifth and the eight verse. Similar problems are also seen in the tenth ant the twelfth one. Shakespeare criticises stupidity and avarice of the queen and nobility (methonymy – “gilded honour shamefully misplaced”, metaphor – “strength by limping sway disabled”, personification – “folly controlling the skill”, similitude – “folly, doctor-like” and methonymy again – “captive good attending captain ill”). Next problem with the queen appears in the ninth verse – the censorship – expressed by the methonymy (“art made tongue-tied by authority”). The rest of the sonnet discusses things which used to and ought to be pure (faith, maiden virtue, right perfection, simple truth) but are corrupted and therefore wrong. In the thirteenth verse is pronounced the idea of disgust and the only help – death – again by the hyperbole (“tired with all these”) and methonymy (“from these I would be gone”). The last – fourteenth – verse contains the volta and offers one reason why to stay alive. One against eleven for a suicide. The poet does not want to leave his love here, in this corrupted world.

 Lastly, the comparison with Sonnet 67. Both treat on the depravity of the world and the only value in it – love. In Sonnet 67 perfection, beauty and goodness of Fair Youth is contrasted with all around him. He is presented as the largest treasure of the Nature in the opposite of the low world. The only surprising aspect is addressing the Fair Youth “he” instead of more romantic and loving words. The difference of these two sonnets is the character of Shakespeare’s lover. In Sonnet 66, he is in relation to the poet and his hope, whereas in the other one is expressed more abstractly and linked to the Nature, not to the writer. He is designed here almost transcendentally, surpassing everything and everyone.

 To sum up, Sonnet 66 is extraordinary. We can see that for William Shakespeare love was truly everything and his lover all the fulfilment of his life. And although this world is not the ideal place to live, love is sufficient reason why to stay alive.



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