I’m back from a long break, back to visiting these old friends, Shakespeare’s sonnets. Perhaps it’s only appropriate we resume where we left off in the Sonnet sequence so many months ago, with this exquisite poem of remembrance and remorse, Sonnet 30.
Number 30 is one of Shakespeare’s most beautiful, an elegiac mourning over lost friends, deeds left undone and love lost. And yet, after enumerating all these regrets and losses, the Poet admits that when he thinks of the Young Man, he forgets his grief. Though this verse is over 400 years old, it can still speak to us today. How often have many of us nursed our regrets and griefs, only then to find joy in those friends and loved ones we still have with us?
Part of the beauty of this Sonnet is in its skillful use of alliteration. Listen for it as I read it.
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, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the 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 restored and sorrows end.