Sonnet 29

Sonnet 29 is one of Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, and one that I have read and
studied prior to this class. This sonnet is a very depressing one as it starts. The speaker begins by saying that he is not looked upon favorably by men, and is in an emotional rut. He pities himself when he is alone. The sadness continues when the speaker prays to heaven and believes that no one hears his prayers. The sadness turns to envy when the speaker wishes to have more hope and be someone with friends. Additionally, he wants to be special and have talent, and unfortunately, the things that make him happy in life only make him more upset. Then the sonnet turns a corner.

Like the morning sun rising after the long night, the speaker reveals a source of light in his darkened state. In his rough times, he thinks of an unknown person and their times together. The situation becomes even more hopeful in the next lines when the speaker compares the arrival of daybreak and songs to heaven with his new state. When he thinks of this person the speaker feels rich and wouldn’t switch places with even a king. This sonnet shows a gradual path of emotions.

The speaker transitions from sadness and grief to envy of other people’s situations and
relationships. Then the sonnet turns from jealousy to love, and love changes the whole mood of the sonnet. I have heard this poem compared to the story of Job from the Bible. The Devil tested Job to see if he would remain loyal to God. Despite having everything except his life taken away from him, he still praised God. This sonnet mirrors Job’s story as the speaker is depressed, then envious, but when he thinks on the person he loves then he feels richer than anyone in the world.

This sonnet is deeper than just one theme or emotion, but combines several into a progression of one person’s difficult journey. One of the most important things to take away from this sonnet is that no matter what happens to us in life love will transcend all of it and make our lives better just by merely thinking about it.

~Jared Barham


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