Sonnet 116

Jared Barham


Sonnet 116 is a lovely poem about one of the greatest joys known to man: love. The poem starts out with the author saying that he does not believe love has any restrictions or else it is not real love. Then, goes into saying love is not something that changes along with change, nor does it change by someone who wants it to change. Love is not subject to the whims of human boredom and short attention spans. The speaker then harshly enforces his previous line with “O no!”, and proceeds to say how love is permanent and steady in times of rough change or adversity. Love is then compared to a star which guides ships and whose worth is not yet fully understood, but it’s height can be measured. Love is not subject to time, but outward beauty can succumb to time’s tools. The speaker then talks further about the permanence of love by saying it doesn’t change from hour to hour or week to week, but can endure all the way to the very end. The poem ends with a powerful couplet saying if everything the author said is proved to be wrong and used against him then it is impossible for him to have ever written anything or for anyone to have ever loved. The ending is quite powerful as it is a pure and powerful declaration of what the speaker believes is love. He believes love is so real and true that he stakes everything he has written and every evidence of love on it. The beginning of the sonnet sets a very firm tone in the defense of love. The first few lines assert true love as having no restrictions and being unchangeable. The next quatrain uses sea metaphors to advance his point. Love being a star is ingenious as stars do not move, and although they can be measured, they are not always fully understood. The same goes with our feelings for others. Although we may not fully understand them, our feelings and affections will always be there. The final quatrain gives even more evidence for love’s immortality by saying even though beauty may fade love will always remain. Sonnet 116 ends on a truly bold note as the speaker risks everything he has written and everyone he has loved on the assurance that love is real, timeless, and powerful.

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