The Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare is the autumnal face in English Literature. He remains as the autumnal face of my tryst with the world of words spanning for more than a decade. Some of the faint as well as the fond memories take me back to the rich repository of my bedrock of my meanderings into the world of creativity, imagination, fantasy and fiction. Yes, the serene recollections take me back to 2007 when I enrolled for a Bachelors in English Language and Literature. Poetry was one of the papers I had to master in my maiden year of Graduation. The introduction to literature took a mighty upstart with the Poetry paper and the debut one in the collection being a Shakespearean sonnet. I have heard of prose, verse and prose poems. But, what about sonnet? My curiosity knew no bounds. I still cherish my faculty, Muraleedharan Sir, who introduced me to the world of the ‘little song’ emerging from the Italian sonneto.
Sonnets are mainly awe inspiring, at times intriguing, disconcerting and sometimes mystifying and mysterious in their meanings. As sonnets, their main concern is ‘love’, but they also echo on the passage of time, change, aging, lust, absence, infidelity and so on. Shakespearean sonnets are 154 in number which are dedicated to Mr. W. H. and the dark lady. Queries and worries still exist on the identity of W.H. These keys have the majesty to unlock our hearts to the eternal verities of our entity.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are composed of 14 lines and are divided into three quatrains and a concluding couplet, rhyming abab cdcd efef gg. In these three quatrains, the poet forms a theme or problem and then resolves it in the final two lines, called the couplet. This sonnet form and rhyme scheme is known as the ‘English’ sonnet. Shakespeare's sonnets are written chiefly in a meter called iambic pentameter, a rhyme scheme in which each sonnet line consists of ten syllables. The syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs or iambic feet. An iamb is a metrical unit made up of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Here are some of my best loved sonnets. I could not erase Sonnet 73 from my amygdala as this is the one that laid the foundation for my affinity in the realm of sonnet. Whenever I skim through my personal copy of Shakespearean Sonnets, I could not resist myself from spending an instant at That time of year thou mayst in me behold! Let’s take a round across these little songs.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.
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 wand'ring 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 prov'd,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.