What Should You Learn From Shakespeare Sonnets?

Shakespeare – the man, who ruled the world of literature at the tip of his index. He gave a new definition to the “English” language through his works (37 plays, 154 sonnets and so on). Did you know that he was the one who brought about the most words we use in English language?

What is a Sonnet?

You must be familiar with this.

It is a poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line – according to Google.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are difficult to understand even if we are good at Old English. I’ve read them and it took me a few tries to really digest the essence of his poems. They were alluringly intricate and magnetic! You’ll be hooked once you get what he means.

Sonnets 1 to 126 – are about a young man, “Fair Youth” or “Mr W.H.”. The poet loved him intensely.
Sonnets 127 to 154 – these are lustful yet romantic verses about a woman, “Dark Lady”. He was obsessed with her beauty.

A few things to learn from Shakespeare sonnets

A few lines – 2 or 3 at the most, always win our hearts. It’s funny how quotes have a dangerously big effect on our mindset. As I was reading these sonnets, I came across a few such lines, which are really hard to let go. Here they are –

Homosexuality is not forbidden – Sonnet 20
Click the image to read Sonnet 20

This sonnet brought in a controversy regarding “Homosexuality”. In those days, people believed that Shakespeare was gay because he wrote poems on a ‘male-mistress’. They believed he had one.

You have a woman’s face, painted by Nature.

You are a mistress, a male one, of my passion

With a woman’s gentle heart, you are free

From their fashion of ‘quick’ changes

We have to embrace what we are, love who we are. It isn’t wrong for a man to love a man. Indeed, as he quoted in the last lines of this sonnet, a gay man is a woman to whom Nature provided an extra thing. Don’t be ashamed of what you are. Make the most of your life being and living as who you really are.

Save yourself from “TIME” – Sonnet 15
Click the image to read Sonnet 15

I declare war against time as I love you

As he takes your life, I renew you in my verses

Life is a challenge, a hurdle to cross over. We get hurt – to stand up again or to remain sitting looking at the sky is our choice. Everything that’s born is perfect only for a while, is under the spotlight for the briefest of time. There isn’t a soul who didn’t get destroyed at one point or the other. Renew yourself. Fight back!

Physical beauty is temporary – Sonnet 18
Click the image to read Sonnet 18

The beauty in being beautiful shall fade away

Either by accident or by the laws of Nature!

It doesn’t matter if you’re beautiful because one day, the beauty that you’re so proud of, will surely leave you. The sonnet talks about preserving beauty in the form of verses and Eternal Summer. Your eternal summer must be your beauty – from the inside. Only those in the eyes of others, as a kindred spirit, shall shine like the summer sky – forever. So, make your existence a solid footprint in others’ life.

Regret eats away the soul – Sonnet 30
Click the image to read Sonnet 30

In those times of sweet silences

I remember thoughts of the very past

I sigh as I lack now, the things I wanted then

As I add new griefs to the old ones, I waste time away

This sonnet talks about Old age and regret. When we are young, we don’t lose many things and even if we do, those losses are superficial. As we mature into true adults, when we see others growing and yet we still remain the child we used to be, that’s when we feel regretful. For all the dreams we’ve wasted away in sleep, for all the dusty ladders that awaited our step, for all the applaud we’ve never heard, we’ll cry tears in our old age.

Love is unchanging, else it isn’t Love – Sonnet 116
Click the image to read Sonnet 116

I will not admit any reasons as to why true-minded people

should not be married. Love is not really love –

when it changes with varying situations

or fades away when a lover is unfaithful

Love is eternal. It’s kind though it’s blind. And yes, it should be physically blind and should be able to see spiritually. One’s love for another should have the capability to look through the soul. It should be a merged reflection of each other’s souls… Connected in spirit. Love should forgive and not flaunt… It should be faithful even in the dawn of unfaithful times; it shouldn’t drown in the face of a flood but must stand strong like a barrier. More importantly, ‘Love’ never ends.

Lust is the gateway to Heaven in Hell – Sonnet 129
Click the image to read Sonnet 129

Anticipating sex, Lust takes birth, which turns people

murderous, violent, blameworthy,

savage, rude, cruel, thoughtless, distrustful

It speaks about how men complain ‘Lust’ and the ‘Need for Sex’ influences their mind. Influenced merely by lust, they take what they want – even if it’s by force and without consent of the other party involved in the intercourse. As long as the process goes on, their head stays in an out-of-world Heaven. When the high loosens it’s grip, the ‘Need’ vanishes, hence, the blame is put on ‘Lust’ which drove them to a Heaven in Hell. They are extreme when they demand it, take it and leave it later. The aftermath of a forced ‘lust’ or ‘sex’ is true sorrow.

These are mostly re-discussed in his other sonnets. Give them a try and apply them positively to your life. Drop your views in the comments below!