Fourteen Lines: The Sonnets of Sex

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While there are a lot of iambs in the poem, there are also several types of beats that give the poem a sense of variety. Often times, Wordsworth will begin a line with a stressed syllable, followed by an unstressed syllable, as in the first word of line 2: Gett -ing and spend -ing, we lay waste our powers Note that words that end with the sound of "ours," like "powers," are often scanned as one beat in English verse. At other times, Wordsworth will use a beat that has two stressed syllables, as in " lay waste " from line 2 above; this is called a spondee.

All rights reserved. Cite This Page. Logging out…. The two poems are both deeply emotional, although in different ways. Milton follows this tradition: his opening octave focuses quite strongly on vengeance, while his final sestet is reminiscent of regeneration. His language is strong and commanding. This turn is quite effective as it responds to the massacre and earlier plea for vengeance by speculating that these murders will only hurt the Catholic Church and the Pope further.

His use of metaphysical conceit allows him to use words that one would likely not use when referring to a human: he uses a large number of verbs that are made even more violent due to their alliteration and dissonance. Donne, similarly to Milton and other sonnet poets, includes a turn in his poem at the ninth line. His octave sets up the idea that Donne needs to be broken and beaten in order to be new, but the sestet explains more specifically why Donne feels that he must go through all of this.

In observing the genre of the sonnet, one must also analyze the structure of the poem as well as the poetic conventions used. Both Donne and Milton use many effective conventions in their sonnets, as well as playing around with traditional structure. To begin with Donne, his opening word itself breaks from the tradition of using iambic pentameter throughout a sonnet. This starts off the sonnet with a bang, and further emphasizes the passionate and violent tone that he has created with his words. Although this is extremely untraditional and arguably incorrect form for a sonnet, it fits in nicely with the passion of the poem.


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When this final rhyme is paired with the two paradoxes that Donne includes in this final couplet, the end of the poem becomes even more memorable. He does not mix genres or confuse the traditional iambic pentameter of the sonnet.

Works Cited

Beautiful language caters to heartbreak, and the Petrarchan sonnet and use of iambic pentameter undoubtedly caters to beautiful language. Nevertheless, it is titled as one and will be remembered as one. Both poets melded the sonnet to work with their content, thus creating powerful poetry that reflected personal and religious messages. Baldick, Chris. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Burbery, Timothy J. Donne, John.


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The Elizabethan alphabet consisted of 24 letters:. The first and last letters have together the number value The remaining number value is 60 , which provides another ratio. The remaining value 36 is equivalent to 4 letters I. Now riddle line 8 deserves a second look: Between a mong a number there are two A with the value 1. There is no further A in line 8.

Alternatively the second A, which stands alone and is between among and number , might be picked out. No doubt Shakespeare played here fancifully and wittily. If Shakespeare counted the numbers of verses, he was naturally aware of their complete sum of The perfect relationship between a loving couple is seen in the notion of a mirror image. The two letters denote 1 and 5 and thus again A and E. There is a last, perhaps more playful but also significant aspect of inversion: The first and last letter of the poet's first name is W and M which, as capital letters, have inverse forms.

They could be associated with the initials of W oman and M an. The two sexes are complementary creations.


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  8. Moreover, the numeric equivalents 21 and 12 are inversions as well. A look at the sonnet shows that W dominates the first half and M the second:. What can the distribution of the two letters mean? The poet is going to devise a new conception of his relationship to Emilia. This objective may be symbolized as a way from the first letter to the last. The W may stand for irrational dependence on female attraction. What the poet strives for is a new M ale self-assertion. In this way the poet has reached the right order of nature at the end of the sonnet.

    Sonnet shows that the basis of true art is form, even mathematical structuring. In fact, a sensible result is achieved on condition that Shakespeare's manuscript text was copied without mistakes. But even then the result is to be considered with caution, as it may be merely coincidental. For the sake of illustration I add the original text once again:. Among a number one i s reckon'd none.

    The frequency of the letter I corresponds to the numeric value of LL and L.

    You, Too, Dislike It: Skinny Dipping

    In this way the total result is divisible by 11 , the numeric value of L. Other numbers may be relevant, too, but I can't attribute them to any meaning. L is the 11 th letter of the alphabet. The two ciphers 11 signify the IDEA of personal love between two equal partners, especially between man and woman. One L assigned to one person means that each individual is gifted with the capacity of love. It further indicates that love is a matter both of mind and body, spiritual and sensual.

    While refers to the principle of equality, a different ratio is required to symbolise the specific relationship between man and woman. It basically suggests a state of unequality between the two sexes which tends achieve unity by unification. The question why one L is assigned to the female sex, double LL to males, is rather speculative and should not be taken too literally. Perhaps one could say that women are the origin of human life and that their male offspring continue procreation.

    The term WI LL refers to the sexual organ of both sexes. This means that sexual union is potential love of equally soul and body. Sonnet avoids the word WI LL for the female sex, but uses the paraphrases "treasure of thy love" and "things of great receit". WI L S with one L obviously lacks the constituent of spiritual love. The poet refuses to compare his love with his rivals'. Lack of spiritual love turns the copulative act into mere gratification of sexual lust.

    Furthermore, its position on number 9 of the alphabet makes it a mirror image of 11 if you write 9 in Roman numbers: IX — XI. The ratio can be inverted into and back again. If both ratios are written as two-digit numbers, the difference between 12 and 21 is 9 , a space in which the relationship between the two sexes develops with changing perspectives and impulses.

    How many of Shakespeare's sonnets dwell on a religious theme?

    It can be shown as a movement on the arc of a circle:. Analysis and Interpretation of Contents. Emilia Lanier implies four conflicts for Shakespeare:. Perhaps without knowing, Shakespeare was trying the impossible: to give and receive love in perfect unity of soul and body. He might have been encouraged to do so as he imagined Emilia had never met with true love before.

    The World is too Much with Us Form and Meter

    His self-pride was immensely hurt that Emilia gave her favours also to other men. When he resigned himself to the inevitable, he at least wanted to assert his true feelings to his lady. In the first line the poet imagines that his lady keeps up an emotional reserve towards him. Assuming a real situation, we may imagine various reasons for her restraint. Shakespeare himself suggests or pretends that she is disquieted by his sexual impulsiveness. In fact, Emilia may have feared to get more involved in her relationship to the poet than she really liked and tried to protect her personal freedom.

    Shakespeare tries to assure her that she keeps up false pretenses blind soul , but if she is sincere to herself, she must confess that she truly longs for him thy will. As a conclusion, in line 4, the poet entreats her to grant him a new common experience of love fulfilment. In using the word LOVE three times in lines 4 and 5, he assures her that the love he is going to give her is ruled by sincere feelings, not just by sexual desire.

    William Shakespeare

    He further expresses his ardent emotion of love by addressing her as "sweet" noun. But this prospect of perfect love reminds the poet that Emilia gives her favours to other men, too. He cannot imagine that they are able to love his lady as much as he does. Their motives are incomparable to his. He feels that Emilia betrays their love if she accepts the advances of other men, too. He denies them true love.

    The poet's change of mood is not easy to explain.

    Questions & Answers

    Is it a kind of self-punishment to share his love with thousands of other men? Does he accept the facts about Emilia's character? Is he overcome with disdain towards his lady?


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