Sunday, September 22, 2013

Trollolololo

This is the sonnet I had to explicate yesterday:

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing my like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
   For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
   That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

This is Shakespeare's sonnet #29. Now, I'm going to break this down for you. One of the reasons I went with the sonnet rather than the modern poem (we had a choice between this and something by Anne Sexton. I didn't even look at the Sexton) is because the sonnet at least has a formula I can follow.

As some of you may remember from your high school/college English classes, Shakespearian/English sonnets typically follow this pattern: abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Notice I said "typically"

Now look at this:


1. When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes                   a
2. I all alone beweep my outcast state,                                     b
3. And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,               a
4. And look upon myself, and curse my fate,                           b
5. Wishing my like to one more rich in hope,                          c
6. Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,          d
7. Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,                     c
8. With what I most enjoy contented least;                              e
9. Yet in these thoughts my self almost despising,                  f
10. Haply I think on thee, and then my state,                          b
11. Like to the lark at break of day arising                               f
12. From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;             b
13.    For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings     g
14.   That then I scorn to change my state with kings.            g



Take a good long look at line 8. That's right, line 8 ends in a word that doesn't rhyme with anything else in this poem. But wait, there's more! Instead of using a new sound, Shakespeare goes on to repeat the b rhyme in lines 10 and 12.

This is irrefutable proof, as my good friend Skeeve pointed out, that Shakespeare was intentionally trolling future English students.

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