D – Sonnet Basics

For this week’s discussion, please define an octave and sestet as it relates to the sonnet. Then in a separate paragraph identify the octave and sestet in Petrarch’s poem “Upon the Breeze….”.

Look at a Shakespearean sonnet, also known as an English sonnet, and how that differs from the Petrarchan sonnet. Have a read of these three sonnets by Shakespeare and make a comment as to what you think is the difference between the Shakespeare sonnets here and Petrarch’s. Please be sure to mention all three of these poems, giving examples from each to prove your point. Use MLA style for in-text citations of quoted material.

For each discussion, make (1) original post, read (3) responses, and respond to at least (1) peer. For the best opportunity to receive feedback on your post, try to make your initial post 72 hours prior to the due date. Use MLA Style when quoting material.

D – Sonnet Basics For this week’s discussion, please define an octave and sestet as it relates to the sonnet. Then in a separate paragraph identify the octave and sestet in Petrarch’s poem “Upon the B
The sonnet , definition and types What Is a Sonnet? A sonnet is a type of poem that traditionally has 14 lines that are written in iambic pentameter . Sonnet Form and Theme The formal and structural elements of sonnets became standardized as the sonnet became popular. But over time, new poets found thei r own ways to write sonnets. In other words, as poets have experimented with the form and structure of the sonnet, those new approaches to writing sonnets have created new “types” of sonnets, like the early Italian and the English sonnet. Thematically, y ou can typically sniff out a traditional sonnet if it deals with one main thing: love. However, like with the form and structure of sonnets themselves, the themes portrayed in sonnets have also expanded to include topics like politics, nature, religion and spirituality, and social issues. What Are the Differences Between Sonnet Forms? While there are differences between the types of sonnets that have been developed over time, they can be pretty tough to pick out if analyzing sonnets is a new thing for yo u. To help you identify each type of sonnet all on your own, we’re going to discuss every major sonnet type you need to know. One quick note: while our list is comprehensive, it definitely doesn’t contain every type of sonnet known to man! We’re just tryi ng to cover the types of sonnets you’re most likely to read. To learn about the obscure sonnet types that didn’t make the cut, check out the Poetry Foundation. Italian or Petrarchan Sonnets We’ll start with the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet because it was the first type of sonnet to become popular! The Petrarchan sonnet was popularized by the Italian poet Francesc o Petrarch in the 1300s, which is why it’s interchangeably called an Italian sonnet or Petrarchan sonnet. You’ll be safe using either name to refer to this type of poem. Petrarchan sonnets have 14 lines — divided into an octave and a sestet — that follow the rhyme scheme ABBA ABBA CDCCDC or ABBA ABBA CDECDE. (Not sure what rhyme scheme is? We’ll talk about it more later, or you can check out this in -depth guide .) Petrarchan poe ms are divided into two sections so the poet can ask questions and reach an answer. Thematically, the octave , or first eight lines, often makes a proposition , which asks a question or describes a problem. T hen the sestet , or final six lines, proposes a res olution or solution . It’s common for the transition from the description of the question/problem to the resolution to happen around the ninth line in Petrarchan sonnets. This shift from problem to resolution is called the “turn,” or volta . So you can think of a Petrarchan sonnet as a fancy Q&A session or a mini -argument! Finally, Italian sonnets are almost always written in iambic pentameter . (We’ll talk more about iamb ic pentameter later!). But now, let’s take a look at a Petrarchan sonnet. An Italian Sonnet/Petrarchan Sonnet Example: “The Sheaves” by Edwin Arlington Robinson Where long the shadows of the wind had rolled, Green wheat was yielding to the change assigned; And as by some vast magic undivined The world was turning slowly into gold. Like nothing that was ever bought or sold It waited there, the body and the mind; And with a mighty meaning of a kind That tells the more the more it is not told. So in a land where all days are not fair, Fair days went on till on another day A thousand golden sheaves were lying there, Shining and still, but not for long to stay – As if a thousand girls with golden hair M ight rise from where they slept and go away. Despite being written in the twentieth century, Robinson uses a Petrarchan form and structure in “The Sheaves.” In this sonnet, Robinson ponders the significance and beauty of a field of wheat. The imagery Robinson uses in this sonnet creates a romantic feeling : the field of wheat is compared to gold and is described as lending a “vast magic” that’s unexplainable. In fact, the bea uty of the world, embodied by the golden field, is even more precious than real gold! Robinson makes use of a traditional Petrarchan ABBAABBA CDCDCD rhyme scheme. (The matching letters represent similar rhymes.) As is characteristic of Petrarchan sonnets, Robinson structures his sonnet into an octave and a sestet, and makes use of a volta to initiate a turn or shift in the tone of the poem at the beginning of line 9. At the volta, Robinson admits that, though the wheat field makes the whole world seem beau tiful, “all days are not fair” — a realistic observation compared to the dreamy romanticism of the octave. Robinson knows that the wheat field’s beauty is limited, which we realize when the wheat gets cut and bound into sheaves. Robinson’s poem is a good e xample of a Petrarchan sonnet because it employs the pattern of making a proposition at the beginning in the octave — that all the world is beautiful, as exemplified by the wheat field — and providing a resolution to that proposition in the sestet — that, like the youth of a thousand girls with golden hair, the beauty of the earth changes over time. English or Shakespearean Sonnets Like the Italian/Petrarchan sonnet, the English sonnet has multiple names as well. The English sonnet is often called a Shakespea rean sonnet since the poet William Shakespeare was the most prolific (and famous!) English sonnet -writer during the sixteenth century. You might even hear this type of poem called an Eliz abethan sonnet , since Queen Elizabeth I loved them! English sonnets have 14 lines of verse, but this type of sonnet has three quatrains and one couplet instead of an octave and a sestet . Also, these sonnets follow an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme. A sing le quatrain is made up of four lines of verse, and a couplet is made up of two lines. Like Petrarchan sonnets, English sonnets are usually in a Q&A format. But the different structure and rhyme scheme affects how English sonnets communicate their themes. In an English sonnet, the volta happens right before the couplet instead of in the middle of the poem. This means that the three quatrains give the poet more space to ask their question and build tension, but the single couplet at the end gives the poet on ly two lines to find an answer. This structure makes the poem more dramatic, and it often means the poet’s “answer” is more ambiguous! An English Sonnet Example: “Prologue,” From Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of the se two foes A pair of star -cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows Do with their death bury their parents’ strife. The fearful passage of their death -mark’d love, And the continuance of their parents’ rage, Which, but their c hildren’s end, nought could remove, Is now the two hours’ traffic of our stage; The which if you with patient ears attend, What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. The Prologue to Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, is actually an example o f an English sonnet. Shakespeare uses a sonnet to show that romantic love and tragic conflict are going to be two main themes of the play . This creative choice shows just how common it was for people to associate sonnets with themes of love and tragedy dur ing the Elizabethan Era . First, you can tell this is a sonnet because it uses the classic structure of three quatrains and a concluding couplet with the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. More importantly, this sonnet sets the stage for the conflict that plays out in the play, telling a tale of two well -respected, Italian families who have bad blood between them. For instance, in the second quatrain, the speaker in the poem tells the audience that the conflict between the two families worsens when their children fall in love and, ultimately, decide to take their own lives. The sonnet concludes with a couplet — another key feature of the English sonnet. The couplet here makes a shift fro m the first twelve lines by speaking directly to the play’s audience, encouraging them to listen patiently and pay attention to the story that the Prologue introduced. In other words, it answers the implied question about what happens next. (Answer: just wa tch!) Shakespeare’s approach to the sonnet embodies all the characteristics that the English sonnet is known for today: the structure, rhyme scheme, presentation of a theme and a problem in the three quatrains, and the use of a volta at the couplet to exp lain how the problem will be resolved. Most of all, The Prologue to Romeo and Juliet embraces the major theme of English sonnets: love. An engraving of the poet Edmund Spenser Spenserian Sonnets Spenserian sonnets are slightly different and less commo n than other forms. Spenserian sonnets are named after the English poet who popularized them, Edmund Spenser . These sonnets use the same structure as English sonnets (three quatrains and a couplet), but rely on a more complicated rhyme scheme: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE. So in order to tell Shakespearean and Spencerian sonnets apart, you have to look closely at the rh yming pattern . What makes the rhyme scheme of a Spenserian sonnet more complicated is that it repeats the same end rhyme several times over. Trying to think of more repeated rhymes that fit naturally into the sonnet can be more difficult for the poet! Furthermore, Spenser uses each quatrain to develop a metaphor, question, idea, or conflict in a logical way . At the end of his sonnets, he uses the couplet to make a bold statement that resolves the theme s presented in the quatrains. Spenser also often included an early volta around line 9 of his sonnets, but the first volta in his sonnets is a red herring — the true resolution doesn’t come until the couplet at the end! A Spenserian Sonnet: XXVI from Amoretti by Edmund Spenser Sweet is the rose, but grows upon a briar; Sweet in the Juniper, but sharp his bough; Sw eet is the Eglantine, but pricketh near; Sweet is the firbloom, but his branches rough. Sweet is the Cypress, but his rind is tough, Sweet is the nut, but bitter is his pill; Sweet is the broom -flower, but yet sour enough; And sweet is Moly, but his root i s ill. So every sweet with sour is tempered still That maketh it be coveted the more: For easy things that may be got at will, Most sorts of men do set but little store. Why then should I account of little pain, That endless pleasure shall unto m e gain. It’s pretty easy to tell that this is a Spenserian sonnet…since it was written by the poet Edmund Spenser! At first glance, this Spenserian sonnet might seem like an English sonnet, but this poem uses the more complicated rhyme scheme that Spen serian sonnets are known for: ABAB BCBC CDCD EE. By paying close attention to the rhyme scheme, you can tell that this is a Spenserian sonnet that ponders the ideas of love and pleasure. In this sonnet, Spenser makes use of repetition to reinforce both a theme and a problem in the three quatrains. By repeating the same phrase over and over (“Sweet is the…”) and using the same sentence structure in each line, Spenser makes it clear that “every sweet with sour is tempered still.” In other words, the good a nd the bad often go together. To reinforce this idea, the first two quatrains name several things that are sweet, like roses and the broom -flower, then point out that these sweet things all grow on sharp, prickly, or sour trees and bushes. In the third qu atrain, Spenser explains why it’s significant that the sweetest things are often accompanied by things that cause pain: because people like a challenge! Spencer says that people don’t really value things they can get easily. Things that are hard to get pro ve more satisfying in the end. Because of the false volta at the beginning of line 9, signaled by Spenser’s use of the word “so,” it may seem like the problem of sweet but prickly things is resolved in the third quatrain. But there’s still the couplet to come, and that’s where the problem is ultimately resolved. Spenser concludes that because good things and bad things often go together, we shouldn’t worry about enduring a little pain when the sweet thing will reward us with pleasure. That reward, Spenser claims, more than makes up for the trouble. .
D – Sonnet Basics For this week’s discussion, please define an octave and sestet as it relates to the sonnet. Then in a separate paragraph identify the octave and sestet in Petrarch’s poem “Upon the B
The Sonnets Historians and scholars are uncertain as to when Shakespeare composed his sonnets; he may have written them over a period of several years, beginning perhaps in 1592 or 1593. Some of the fourteen-line poems were being circulated in manuscript form among the author’s acquaintan- ces as early as 1598, and in 1599 two of them— Sonnets 138 and 144—were published in The Passionate Pilgrim , a collection of verses by sev- eral authors. The sonnets as modern readers know them were certainly completed no later than 1609, the year they were published in a quarto by Thomas Thorpe under the title Shake-speares Sonnets . While many scholars have expressed the belief that Thorpe acquired the manuscript on which he based his edition from someone other than the author, modern critics generally see little reason to doubt the text’s authenticity. On the other hand, few believe that Shakespeare directly supervised the publica- tion of the manuscript, as the text is riddled with errors—and Thorpe, not Shakespeare, authored the dedication. Regardless, Thorpe’s 1609 edition is the basis for all modern texts of the sonnets. With only a few exceptions—Sonnets 99, 126, and 145—Shakespeare’s verses follow the established English form of the sonnet. Each is a fourteen-line poem in iambic pentameter, com- prising four sections: three quatrains, or groups of four lines, followed by a couplet of two lines. Traditionally, different, though related, ideas are expressed in each quatrain, and the argument or 788 1592 theme of the poem is summarized or generalized in the concluding couplet. Many of Shake- speare’s couplets do not have this conventional structure or effect. However, the poet did consis- tently employ the traditional English sonnet rhyme-scheme: abab cdcd efef gg . Where Shake- speare incorporates feminine rhymes, or rhymes of two syllables with the second unstressed, the last syllable constitutes an added eleventh syllable in the line in question. Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, taken together, are frequently described as a sequence, and this is generally divided into two sections. Sonnets 1– 126 focus on a young man and the narrator’s intimate friendship with him, and Sonnets 127– 152 focus on the narrator’s relationship with a woman. (The narrator is often referred to as the poet.) However, in only a select number of the poems in the first group can the reader be certain that the person being addressed is male; in fact, most of the poems in the sequence as a whole are not directly addressed to another person. The two concluding verses, Sonnets 153 and 154, are adaptations of classical verses about Cupid; some critics believe they serve a specific pur- pose—though they disagree about what this may be—but many others view them as provid- ing the collection with perfunctory closure. The English sonnet sequence reached the height of its popularity in the 1590s, when the posthumous publication of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella (1591) was widely celebrated and led other English poets to put forth their own sonnet collections. In tur n, all of these sequences, including Shakespeare ’s, are indebted to some degree to the literary conventions established by the Canzoniere , a sonnet sequence composed by the fourteenth-century Italian poet Petrarch. By the time Shakespeare wrote his sonnets, anti- Petrarchan conventions had become established, whereby traditional motifs and styles were sati- rized or exploited. Commentators on Shake- speare’s sonnets frequently compare them to those of his predecessors and contemporaries, including Sidney, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Henry Howard, Samuel Daniel, and Edmund Spenser. The principal topics of twentieth-century crit- ical commentary on the sonnets are their themes and poetic style. Analyse s of formal elements in the poems include examinations of the rhetorical devi- ces, syntax, and dictio n Shakespeare employed throughout. The multiple and indefinite associa- tionsofhiswordsand phrases have proved especially intriguing—a nd problematic—for schol- arsaswellasforgeneralreaders.Thecomplexity and ambiguity of Shakespeare’s figurative lan- guage is also a central critical issue, as is the sequen- ce’s remarkable diversity of tone and mood. Shakespeare’s departures from and modifica- tions of the poetic styles employed by other sonneteers have also drawn a measure of critical attention. Many of Shakespeare’s themes are conven- tional sonnet topics, such as love and beauty, and the related motifs of time and mutability. Yet Shakespeare treats these themes in his own distinctive fashion, most notably by addressing the poems of love and praise not to a fair maiden but to a young man and by including a second object of passion: a woman of questionable attractiveness and virtue. Critics have frequently called attention to Shakespeare’s complex and paradoxical representations of love in the son- nets. They have long discussed the poet’s claim that he is immortalizing the young man’s beauty in his verses, thereby defying the destructiveness of time. The themes of friendship and the betrayal of friendship are also significant, as is the nature of the relationship between the poet and the young man. The ambiguous eroticism of the sonnets has elicited varying responses, with some commentators asserting that the relation- ship between the two men is platonic and others contending that it is demonstrably sexual. Because Shakespeare’s lyrics are passionate, intense, and emotionally vivid, over the centuries many readers and commentators have grown con- vinced that they must have an autobiographical basis. However, little concrete evidence indicates that this is so. Still, biographers have produced endless speculation about what the sonnets may tell us about their creator, and various scholars have attempted to identify the persons who were the original models for the persons the poet refers to and addresses. The fact remains, however, that no one can determine to what degree Shake- speare’s personal experiences are reflected in his sonnets. Likewise, no one can know with any certainty whether the persons depicted in the poems are based on actual individuals or are solely the product of Shakespeare’s observation, imagination, and understanding of the human heart. Overall, contradictions and uncertainties abound in Shakespeare’s sonnets. Both individu- ally and as a collection, the poems resist generalities The Sonnets Shakespeare For Students, Se cond Edition, Volume 3 789 and summations. Their complex language and multiple perspectives ha ve given rise to a number of different interpretations, all of which may in some respect be valid—even when they contradict each other. Few modern critics read the sonnets as personal allegory, with most commentators assert- ing that speculation as to implications about Shakespeare’s life, morals, and sexuality is a useless exercise. The narrator of the poems, then, is pre- cisely the person he seems to be to each individual reader; as in much great poetry, his confused and ambiguous expressions of thought and emotion serve to heighten readers’ own sentiments about universal matters such as love, friendship, jealousy, hope, and despair. PLOT SUMMARY Shakespeare’s sonnets do not describe or enact a clear sequence of events, nor do they follow a straightforwardly logical or chronological order. They allude to only a few specific actions, and even these are presented in general rather than particular terms. The setting, too, is generalized, with no reference to any specific locales. A sense of time elapsing is evoked through the sonnets’ portrayal of developments in the speaker’s rela- tionships with the young man and the woman, but only one suggestion is made about how long either of these associations lasted. Below, the sonnets are broadly summarized in a small num- ber of commonly recognized groupings. Only sonnets that belong to connected series or that bear some particular overall significance are mentioned individually; these series and signifi- cances were largely gleaned from the Arden Shakespeare’s Sonnets , Third Series, edited by Katherine Duncan-Jones. Sonnets 1–17 In the first seventeen sonnets—the most coher- ent group in the sequence, often referred to as the ‘‘procreation sonnets’’—the speaker urges a young man of aristocratic birth to marry and have children so that his extraordinary beauty will be preserved for the ages. The young man is portrayed in this opening group as somewhat vain or narcissistic, through lines such as ‘‘Or who is he so fond will be the tomb / Of his self- love, to stop posterity?’’ (Sonnet 3). Thus, he is understood to be uninterested in procreating because he only truly loves himself. The poet frequently stresses that the young man’s beauty will fade as he ages, to be lost entirely upon his death—and saved only in the person of his offspring. Sonnet 1 begins with the argument that the ‘‘fairest creatures’’ are the ones that ought to procreate; Duncan-Jones equates this suggestion with the modern concept of eugenics, wherein the breeding of humans might be controlled so as to improve the race. In Sonnet 11, the poet again states that those whom nature has ‘‘best endowed’’ should seek to reproduce. In Sonnets 5 and 6, the poet likens the process of marrying and begetting children to the process of preserv- ing the essence of a rose by distilling rose water. In Sonnet 10, the poet first reveals that he not only appreciates the young man’s beauty but also bears some degree of affection for him, requesting, ‘‘Make thee another self for love of me.’’ Soon thereafter, in Sonnet 13, the poet calls the young man ‘‘dear my love.’’ In the last three sonnets in this group the poet presents another Title page of the Sonnets , 1609 ( The Folger Shakespeare Library) The Sonnets 790 Shakespeare For Student s, Second Edition, Volume 3 means of forestalling the destructiveness of time: the poet will immortalize the friend’s beauty in his verses. Sonnets 18–126 As with the first twenty-six sonnets in Shake- speare’s sequence, the ensuing 109 are understood to revolve around the relationship between the poet and the young man (even though many of the sonnets make only unspecific, ungendered reference to a beloved). The two experience absen- ces from each other, and at length the young man is understood to have somehow betrayed the poet in matters of love. Nevertheless, the poet remains largely infatuated with and reverent toward his friend, frequently expressing his devotion. Later on, the poet seems to have likewise been somehow unfaithful to the young man. The last poem in this group is fairly inconclusive, allowing for various interpretations and conjectures as to the fate of the men’s friendship. Overall, Sonnets 27–126 depict a recurring cycle of contrition and coldness on the part of the friend and forgiveness, under- standing, praise, and reproach on the part of the poet. The poet vacillates between, on the one hand, confidence in his art and in his friendship with the young man and, on the other, doubt and anxiety that either of these will prove to be of lasting value. Laying aside his insistence that the young man procreate, the poet elaborates on the notion that he can partly preserve his friend’s beauty through his verse in Sonnets 18–26. The poet makes extravagant claims about the fame and durability of his poetry but also expresses some artistic humility. In addition, new motifs are introduced, particularly, in Sonnet 20, the possi- bility of a physical relationship between the poet and the friend; this famously ambiguous sonnet has been cited both to refute and to support the notion that Shakespeare himself had homosex- ual inclinations. In Sonnet 21 the poet compares his work to that of other poets; later on, he will make explicit mention of a rival poet. In Sonnets 27–31, the poet relates the emo- tional experience of suffering his friend’s absence; in Sonnets 27 and 28 he cannot escape the image of the young man at night, while in Sonnets 29 and 30 he laments the failures of his life but is consoled by thoughts of the man. In Sonnets 33 and 34 the poet invokes metaphorical language, speaking of sun, clouds, and rain, to allude to some betrayal committed by the young man; in Sonnet 35 the poet seems somewhat conflicted but forgives his friend. In Sonnets 40–42, the poet reveals that the young man betrayed him by associating with a mistress of the poet’s. In Sonnets 43–45 the poet again speaks of an absence from his friend and of seeing his friend’s image at night; he also divides up what Elizabe- thans understood as the four basic elements, associating earth and water with himself, fire and air with the young man. In Sonnets 46 and 47 the poet’s eyes and heart first compete with each other over the young man, then share in appreciating him. By Sonnet 49, however, the poet is anticipating a future in which the poet and young man will no longer be friendly acquaintances. In Sonnet 50 the poet reluctantly embarks on a journey, once again achieving an absence from the young man, which he laments in the following two sonnets. In Sonnets 53–55, the poet now praises the young man’s moral virtue (irrespective of the earlier mention of betrayal) and asserts that he will immortalize that virtue through his verse. Then again, in Son- net 56, the poet mentions that the love between the two men has diminished. In Sonnets 57 and 58 the poet refers to him- self as the young man’s ‘‘slave,’’ reflecting his utter subservience to the friend. In Sonnets 59 and 60, the passage of time and its effects on the world are discussed. In Sonnet 63—which num- ber, being seven times nine, Duncan-Jones refers to as the ‘‘grand climacteric,’’ as associated with great changes in life—the poet ruminates more directly on how the young man must eventually age; in Sonnet 64, the poet anticipates the young man’s death. Duncan-Jones notes that Shake- speare may have made Sonnet 66—which has twelve rather than fourteen lines—a particularly despairing one in connection to the biblical con- notations of the ‘‘evil’’ number 666. In the two following sonnets, in turn, the broader corrup- tion of society is mentioned. The poet returns to his friend’s moral qual- ities in Sonnets 69 and 70, asserting that his out- ward appearance belies his inward degradation— then suggesting that he is perhaps denounced by others simply because he is so beautiful. In Sonnets 71–74 the poet anticipates his own death and implores the young man to dissociate himself from the disrespected deceased. In Sonnets 76 and 77 the poet focuses on the quality of his verse, as inspired by the young man. In Sonnets 78–80 and 82–86, then, he speaks of The Sonnets Shakespeare For Students, Se cond Edition, Volume 3 791 others who have also written poetry about his friend, perhaps of superior quality; in Sonnet 80 the poet specifically remarks, ‘‘A better spirit doth use your name.’’ However, the poet asserts that even if his verse is plainest, his love for the young man, at least, is the purest and best. Duncan-Jones notes that Sonnet 87 may be interpreted as something of a turning point within the collection of verses about the young man: ‘‘The use of feminine rhymes in every line except 2 and 4 draws attention to the sonnet as unusual in form … , perhaps to mark a new phase in the sequence: the rival poet is forgotten, but all is not well with the friends.’’ Sonnets 88– 90, then, focus on a separation between the two men brought about by the disparity in their respective worths. In Sonnets 91 and 92, the poet describes the grief that the young man’s rejection of him would cause and the relief that he would thus find in death; in Sonnets 93–95 he regrets the deceptiveness of the young man’s beautiful, kindly appearance, while in Sonnet 96 he lauds the young man even for his faults. Sonnets 97–99 make further reference to separa- tion between the two men, this time employing the imagery of the seasons. Sonnet 100 is referred to by Duncan-Jones as a ‘‘new beginning,’’ as the poet is attempting to revive his Muse’s interest in the young man. The Arden editor writes, ‘‘We may imagine either that a period of poetic silence has elapsed between 99 and 100, or that the speaker’s absence and pre- occupation with mere shadows of the youth [from Sonnet 98] constitutes a poetic desertion of him.’’ In Sonnets 101–103, then, the poet speaks further with his Muse and ponders his recent dearth of verse. In Sonnet 104 the young man seems to finally be aging, though the poet professes to still love him greatly in this and the following verse. Sonnet 107 is understood to allude to the death of Queen Elizabeth—‘‘The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured’’—and the accession to the throne by James I. The poet seems to take stock of his achievements thus far in Sonnet 108, at which point he has matched the length of the seminal sonnet collection by Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella . Sonnets 109 and 110 deal with the poet’s voluntary separation from the young man. Sonnet 111 has been widely inter- preted as making reference to Shakespeare’s public career as an actor. In Sonnets 113 and 114 the poet speaks of yet seeing the young man’s image in all things, while in Sonnets 115 and 116 he ponders the evolving nature of love. In Sonnets 117 and 118, the poet is now defending himself against accusations of unfaith- fulness. Afterward, in Sonnets 119 and 120, he contemplates his estimation of his self and the extent to which his love for the young man per- sists, hoping for forgiveness—but in Sonnet 122 he reveals that he no longer possesses some writ- ten work given to him by the young man. In Sonnets 123–125, the poet speaks in somewhat obscure terms about the passage of time, remi- niscence about the past, political fortunes, and the permanence of his love. Finally, in Sonnet 126, the poet returns to the subject of the young man’s death, ending with two lines containing naught but empty parentheses. Duncan-Jones provides a survey of possible meanings for these cryptic punctuation marks, including ‘‘marks in an account-book enclosing the final sum, but empty’’; ‘‘the shape of an hourglass, but one that contains no sand’’; or ‘‘a repeated waxing and waning of the moon, pointing to fickleness and frailty.’’ She lastly suggests that they may point to the young man’s failure to have procre- ated: ‘‘The poet’s verse is incomplete, and so is the youth’s life.’’ Regardless, the sonnets making exclusive reference to the young man have come to a close. Sonnets 127–154 Sonnets 127–154 portray the poet’s relationship with the woman known as the ‘‘dark lady.’’ The poet offers even less of a sequential story line here than he did in

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