Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken,
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error, and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Now that you have reached the end of this remarkable sonnet, I’d like to ask you a simple question:
Are you experiencing a perplexity comprehending the originator’s utterance?
Perhaps I should rephrase the question:
Are you having a hard time understanding the poet’s message?
First, there are a few things we should know about the author. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. Consequently, he lived a long time ago and has written his name into history books for good.
“The man died a long time ago, he’s history, past tense, and should be renamed W. Shookspeare”, I hear some people say. But let me tell you this. Shakespeare had an extensive vocabulary. While most English speakers can boast of a 4,000-word vocabulary, Shakespeare’s vocabulary spanned over 29,000 words. In fact, Shakespeare coined many of the terms that are now used in English everyday speech. He created more than 1,700 new words that were unknown in medieval England. The man was clearly no average Joe and we should take heed to what he has to say, especially when it comes to such a universal notion as ‘love’ that this particular sonnet addresses, time isn’t/shouldn’t be an issue. Be it even 400 years later. Btw, the fact that we are either reluctant or find it difficult to grasp his words of wisdom may be an indication of our own incompetence in both, the topic he’s touching upon and/or the language he uses to get the message across. It is also possible that we’re too busy living life and never stop for a single moment to sort things out for ourselves – not necessarily a sign of wisdom either. Live and learn.
|Let me not to the marriage of true minds
||Let me not declare any reasons why two
|Admit impediments. Love is not love
||True-minded people should not be married. Love is not love
|Which alters when it alteration finds,
||Which changes when it finds a change in circumstances,
|Or bends with the remover to remove:
||Or bends from its firm stand even when a lover is unfaithful:
|O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
||Oh no! it is a lighthouse
|That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
||That sees storms but is never shaken;
|It is the star to every wandering bark,
||Love is the guiding north star to every lost ship,
|Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
||Whose value cannot be calculated, although its altitude can be measured.
|Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
||Love is not at the mercy of Time, though physical beauty
|Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
||Comes within the compass of his sickle.
|Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
||Love does not alter with hours and weeks,
|But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
||But, rather, it endures until the last day of life.
|If this be error and upon me proved,
||If I am proved wrong about these thoughts on love
| never writ, nor no man ever loved.
||Then I recant all that I have written, and no man has ever [truly] loved.