Sunday, March 17, 2013

Poem for Meditation

Sonnet 14

Not from the stars do I my judgment pluck;
And yet methinks I have astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well,
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

- William Shakespeare

In Sonnet 14 the poet first reveals that it is not through science ("astronomy"), his own judgement, or personal experience that he obtains his knowledge about life and love -- all that he knows comes simply and only from his lover ("But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive"). And the primary lesson the poet learns from his lover's eyes is that, if his lover refuses to create a child to carry on his (or her) lineage, all the ideals embodied by his lover will cease to exist. This is yet another variation on Shakespeare's theme of the necessity of procreation that dominates the early sonnets.   (Mabillard, Amanda. An Analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 14. Shakespeare Online. 2000.  < >.)


M. said...

A fine sonnet; but don't you think the poem is weaker for the shift in tone after the second quatrain? I take it the line, "If from thyself to store thou wouldst covert" refers to the lover's possible refusal to create a child?

James said...

Thanks for your comment. You make a salient observation.