Sonnet 17 Explication
Who will believe my verse in time to come
If it were filled with your most high deserts?
Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb
Which hides your life and shows not half your parts.
If I could write the beauty of your eyes
And in fresh numbers number all your graces,
The age to come would say “This poet lies:
Such heavenly touches ne’er touched earthly faces.”
So should my papers yellowed with their age
Be scorned like old men of less truth than tongue,
And your true rights be termed a poet’s rage
And stretchèd metre of an antique song:
But were some child of yours alive that time,
You should live twice; in it and in my rhyme.
Sonnet 17 is one of the 126 Fair Youth sonnets supposedly written by William Shakespeare. The Fair Youth written about in the poems is a young boy whom the speaker has great feeling for. Be it that of romance or deep friendship or longing of intimacy. Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the Authorship Question brings out the controversial idea that Shakespeare may not, in fact, have written all 154 of his so famous sonnets. It is important to be aware of the differing points of view these sonnets can be read in; the identity of the author is needed to truly create the context of the poetry and understand it on a deeper level. Jonathan Star makes the point that if you read the Fair Youth sonnets assuming they are written by a “homosexual, middle-aged man” you are imposing a corrupt context and taking away from the true beauty and meaning of the sonnets.
Reading the Fair Youth sonnets through an open and truthful mind will reveal three authors throughout the sequence. 1-16 were supposedly authored by an older family member of the young man to persuade him to carry on his family by procreating. Sonnet 17 is grouped with the first 16, but could be seen as written by a young woman in love with the Fair Youth. Sonnets 18-126 were written in the point of a love between a young woman and a young man, both of...
Citations: Star, Jonathan. "Shakespeare Authorship Question." Sonnets. Jonathan Star, n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2013.
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