Sonnet 27

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired;
But then begins a journey in my head,
To work my mind, when body’s work’s expired:
For then my thoughts, from far where I abide,
Intend a zealous pilgrimage to thee,
And keep my drooping eyelids open wide,
Looking on darkness which the blind do see
Save that my soul’s imaginary sight
Presents thy shadow to my sightless view,
Which, like a jewel hung in ghastly night,
Makes black night beauteous and her old face new.
  Lo! thus, by day my limbs, by night my mind,
  For thee and for myself no quiet find.

As I flip through my sonnets book looking for material, Sonnet 27 caught my eye.  Does this entire sonnet basically come down to, “When I lay to go to sleep at night I can’t stop thinking about you, so I just stare into the darkness and try to imagine your beautiful face and think about how far we are away from each other?”

I love it.

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3 thoughts on “Sonnet 27

  1. Sonnet 27 is actually half a poem, the first of a pair of double sonnets. If you read Sonnet 28, you can see that the two are meant to be read together:

    Sonnet 28:
    How can I then returne in happy plight
    That am debarred the benifit of rest?
    When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
    But day by night and night by day opress'd.
    And each (though enemies to either's reign)
    Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
    The one by toil, the other to complain
    How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
    I tell the Day to please him thou art bright,
    And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
    So flatter I the swart complexion'd night,
    When sparkling stars twire not thou gild’st the eaven.
    But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
    And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.

    Shakespeare's love of wordplay is evident here. The Elizabethan had many categorizations for the complex forms of such usages (tropes, in linguistic talk), but the names are irrelevant–the brilliant cascade of such forms, using opposites, alliteration, and much more, to such imaginative effect, bringing out the emotional impact of the double poem shows Shakespeare at his best.
    –Carl

  2. Sonnet 27 is actually half a poem, the first of a pair of double sonnets. If you read Sonnet 28, you can see that the two are meant to be read together:

    Sonnet 28:
    How can I then returne in happy plight
    That am debarred the benifit of rest?
    When day's oppression is not eas'd by night,
    But day by night and night by day opress'd.
    And each (though enemies to either's reign)
    Do in consent shake hands to torture me,
    The one by toil, the other to complain
    How far I toil, still farther off from thee.
    I tell the Day to please him thou art bright,
    And dost him grace when clouds do blot the heaven:
    So flatter I the swart complexion'd night,
    When sparkling stars twire not thou gild’st the eaven.
    But day doth daily draw my sorrows longer,
    And night doth nightly make grief's length seem stronger.

    Shakespeare's love of wordplay is evident here. The Elizabethan had many categorizations for the complex forms of such usages (tropes, in linguistic talk), but the names are irrelevant–the brilliant cascade of such forms, using opposites, alliteration, and much more, to such imaginative effect, bringing out the emotional impact of the double poem shows Shakespeare at his best.
    –Carl

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