William Shakespeare and His Sonnet No. 01 & 127
William Shakespeare was born at Stratford-On-Avon on 25 April 1564. He died on 23 April 1616. He is an eminent poet and playwright of the Renaissance in England. His poems are Venus and Adonis (1593), The Rape of Lucrece (1594), The Phoenix and the Turtle (1601) and the Sonnets (1593-1603).
The sonnets of William Shakespeare were published in the Quarto edition of Shakespeare’s Works in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe. They are dedicated to Mr. W.H. It is he who is considered to be the begetter of Shakespearean sonnets. A controversy exists about the identity of Mr. W.H. Perhaps he is William Herbert, the eldest son of the second Earl of Prembroke by his third wife, Mary Sidney. William Herbert was born in 1586. In 1601 he became the third Earl of Prembroke.
Shakespeare has composed 154 sonnets. These sonnets form two groups. The first group (1 to 126) is addressed to a smart young man and the second group (127 to 154) to a dark lady. The young man appears as a lovely boy. His social position is very high. He is urged to marry and beget children to perpetuate his great beauty. The dark lady is perhaps a married woman. She appears a bad angel who has stolen away the poet’s good angel, his young friend. The poet loves both.
The sonnet is a fourteen line fixed lyrical form. It came to be used in Italy in the thirteenth century. It was perfected by Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374). He is commonly known as Petrarch. His sonnets are addressed to a beautiful lady named Laura. The rhyme scheme of his sonnets is abba,aba,cde or cdc,dedor cde,dce. The English sonnets directly stems from Petrarch through Howard, Sir Thomas Wyatt and the earl of Surrey.
The Shakespearean sonnet consists of three quatrains. Each quatrain consists of four lines. At the end there is a couplet. The rhyme scheme of Shakespearean sonnet is abab, cdcd, efef and gg. It has its own structure comprising exposition, elaboration, exemplification and inference. The first quatrain proposes the theme. The second and the third enlarge and exemplify the exposition. The couplet concludes it. The sonnets make use of pentameter, having five feet, especially iambic feet in each line.
From fairest creatures we desire increase (Sonnet- 01): Shakespeare
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak'st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.
In the old age black was not counted fair (Sonnet- 127): Shakespeare
In the old age black was not counted fair,
Or if it were, it bore not beauty's name;
But now is black beauty's successive heir,
And beauty slandered with a bastard shame:
For since each hand hath put on Nature's power,
Fairing the foul with Art's false borrowed face,
Sweet beauty hath no name, no holy bower,
But is profaned, if not lives in disgrace.
Therefore my mistress' eyes are raven black,
Her eyes so suited, and they mourners seem
At such who, not born fair, no beauty lack,
Sland'ring creation with a false esteem:
Yet so they mourn becoming of their woe,
That every tongue says beauty should look so.