Thursday, November 09, 2006

Moments of Awe

William Shakespeare's Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I haven't read Shakespeare's sonnets in years. Today, with a few brief moments paging through an anthology, I caught this one.

John Madden says of Tom Brady that he does what every other great quarterback does, he just makes it look a lot easier. That also describes Shakespeare the poet: he writes as other poets, but with a casual, effortless simplicity that is unparalleled. Not only does he write clear, straight sentences in sonnet form as if he just whipped it out of nowhere, but he creates unique turns of speech in every line. I don't know that the content of the poem is terribly original, and I could certainly do without the last couplet; however, reading this poem one becomes aware of linguistic genius.

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