RomeoJuliet

According to the movement of planets–that is, the Vernal Equinox–it’s supposed to be Spring. But in my particular part of the country, snow is coming this evening. So for today I’ve chosen a sonnet that bemoans the many common-day misfortunes that can befall any of us–and what the cure for that misfortune is.

29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

The Poet curses his bad fate, looking at others more fortunate than him, people with friends, art, possessions: “with friends possess’d, Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope.” He even believes any prayers to God are falling on deaf ears: “And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.” It almost seems the Poet is treading very close to apostasy here. But even in the Elizabethan era of a state-sanctioned religion and compulsory church attendance, I’m sure many, many people felt their constant prayers did no good.   Another example of Shakespeare’s ability to speak to the Everyman in each of us, and doing it without quite crossing the line.

In the end, Sonnet 29 holds a lesson for us, applicable even four centuries later: the love of your life can make you feel so wealthy, you wouldn’t trade him or her for being a king. This nice couplet turns it all around:

For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

So today, if things don’t go right–or if snow is coming to bury your sprouting irises and tulips, turn to that special person who loves you more than anything: that is the greatest treasure on Earth.

The image comes from the 1996 movie Romeo + Juliet, with Claire Danes and Leo DiCaprio, a good example of true love in the midst of growing troubles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s