Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Shakespeare / Sonnet 116

Sonnet 116

by William Shakespeare 
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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.

In this staple of wedding ceremonies, "mind" probably means something nearer to what we mean by the word "spirit". Or we have a more modern term that covers it: "soul-mate". From this poem we can, as is so often the case, give the last word to Shakespeare, a succinct characterisation of the wish for enduring love: "Love is not love / Which alters when it alteration finds."

John Stammers
Wednesday 9 February 2011 10.26 GMT

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