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Analysis of 9 sonnets

Analysis of 9 sonnets

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Sonnet EssayWilliam WickmanSunday, 18 March 2007
Compare and contrast the ideas presented in a range of sonnets. How significant do you find the sonnet form inexpressing the writers’ thoughts and feelings?
 The sonnet at first seems to be a short, simple poem, or “little sonnet” as itmeans in Italian. 14 lines that obey one of a few rhyming patterns and arerhythmically sound. The two most renowned forms are the Petrachian (or Italian)and the Shakespearean (or English). These two take the names of their mostinfluential poets, often hailed as the inventors of these forms. The sonnet formwas “invented” in the early 13
th
century in the Sicilian court, but gradually theconcept worked its way, evolving, into the hands of the great poet Petrarch. ThePetrarchan sonnet form consists of two verses which run the rhyming pattern[ABBAABBA | CDDE CE]. The pipe represents the division between the firstoctave and the second sextet. The Shakespearean on the other hand, is dividedin to 3 verses of 4 lines or quatrains with a rhyming couplet at the end. This hasa slightly different rhyming pattern [ABAB | CDCD | EFEF | GG]. One would havethought that his slight difference in form would make very little difference, butthere are subtle differentiations which can change the whole tone and messageof a sonnet if the form was swapped.A sonnet’s purpose is to take a thought and explore that thought; develop thatthought; contain that thought in words. A thought is a very abstract thing andthese 14 lines seem just perfect to contain a state of mind. Capturing your stateof mind in words is impossible; you can never really convey
exactly
what youare thinking to another person, but with the sonnet, many poets, especiallyShakespear, come extremely close.Back to the difference in form. The Shakespearean, or English as it is alsocommonly known, has 3 distinct different opinions; one per verse. The firstusually introduces an idea or though, mulling it over. The second will take adifferent opinion or attitude to that though and the third will bring it round to itsconclusion, often back to where it started as in
Since there’s no help: Michael Drayton
, or another course. The rhyming couplet at the end makes the finalconclusion and sums it up succinctly. The Petrarchan on the other hand, only hastwo verses. The first will present an idea, and discuss it from one general point of view for eight lines, then the sextet will often take the counter to that thought oranother slant on the matter and bring the sonnet to its conclusion. That changein verses is a key turning point of the sonnet. The difference is subtle but inpoems such
Upon Westminster Bridge: William Wordsworth
the formmakes a big difference. That sonnet only works with the Petrarchan model,developing continuously in one first octet, not as 2 quartets as theShakespearean would have it.Because of the sonnets innate ability to capture an idea and express it as wordsto share with others so well, it has been used by many poets to express a hugerange of themes. Many are “love poems” which is an interesting name to give1
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Sonnet EssayWilliam WickmanSunday, 18 March 2007them. They do indeed discuss relationships of love between people, but on manyoccasions what seems to be a great love poem, talks more of hate than love;about the problems in a relationship as opposed to the wonder. Take
How do Ilove thee: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
. On first reading this appears to be asimple, almost “cheesy” poem love in which someone describes to a lover all theways they love them. But when you look at it more closely, Miss Browningappears not to love this person to the sublime, but on a day to day basis, whenthinking of death or for political reasons. She is saying how she does not havetrue love for her lover, in what appears on the surface to be the opposite.Another common theme for sonnets is that of celebration. Seeing somethingincredibly wonderful often inspires great creativity and in an urge to preservethat though of wonderment, people often turn to the sonnet for its ability tocontain a though. A fine example of this would be
Chapman’s Homer: JohnKeats
. Keats was so inspired upon reading Chapman’s translation of Homer at afriend’s dinner party that he ran all the way home to try write a sonnet hisamazement while he still had access to his state of mind. There also seem to have been composed many sonnets concerning departure; of leaving something behind. This is another emotion that can extract greatliterature from people and forms an interesting subject for a sonnet. Another of Keats’ sonnets,
Bright Star: John Keats
is concerned with this matter.
 Just a random interjection for the draft, to amuse youwhile you mark a pile of papers, I’ve made acommentary of my writing of this essay in case it is diaand you fall asleep. It has taken me about a week of doing the odd bit here and there to get to this point. It isnow Saturday 17
th
and I am panicking. I will work all evening to get as far as I can.
But on to dealing with the task put forward in the title; I must compare andcontrast the ideas presented in a range of sonnets. To start off: sonnets basedaround the idea of departure. I have chosen three sonnets that contain thoughtsof this nature: the already mentioned
Since there’s no help: Michael Drayton
,
Bright Star: John Keats
and
Remember: Christina Rossetti 
. All of these explore and examine the idea of departure, but all in their own unique,quite different ways.
Since there’s no help: Michael Drayton
is, in a nutshell, written by a manwho wants to break free from a trapping relationship, but is not sure himself thathe does. The sonnet gets straight to the point with the first line.“...
COME
,
LET
 
US
 
KISS
 
AND
 
PART
. He seems to want to make the act very cold, business-like then in thesecond line,“...
 YOU
 
GET
 
NO
 
MORE
 
OF
 
ME
seems to be rather spiteful and harsh. It is asif he is fed up of being pushed around, and wants to stand up for himself; he hasdecided to stand up for himself for once. But as the verse moves on,“A
ND
I
AM
 
GLAD
,
 YEA
,
GLAD
 
WITH
 
ALL
 
MY
 
HEART
we can tell by the “yea” that he is not really glad. Itis as if he is trying to convince himself more than anyone else that he believes2
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Sonnet EssayWilliam WickmanSunday, 18 March 2007what he is saying and it is from the word
CLEANLY
in the fourth line that we getthe impression that he has been in a messy, trapping relationship and wants tobe free of all ties. The second verse moves on to assert our beliefs that hehimself is unsure he is making the right decision. He talks of 
CANCEL
 [ing] 
ALL
 
OUR
 
VOWS
which infers that he was married and is now divorcing her. With
SHAKE
 
HANDS
 
FOR
 
EVER
he is trying to seem cold, to hide his emotions, to pretend that he doesnot care. The shaking of hands is very associated with business and he is tryingto make this all “just business”. He then tries to put up a wall around himself bysaying
BE
 
IT
 
NOT
 
SEEN
 
IN
 
EITHER
 
OF
 
OUR
 
BROWS
 
 THAT
 
WE
 
ONE
 
FORMER
 
 JOT
 
OF
 
LOVE
 
RETAIN
. He isscared of himself showing any sign of emotion. He is saying “when we meantagain we will not show any sign of past affection we had. It is a rather weak thingto be saying. He then adopts more of a pessimistic view. He use the image of apatient lying on a death bed and personifies Love, Passion, Faith and Innocenceas an old bony man coming to the end of his life; a weak being so close toexpiring. And she has done this to all these “capitalised” (that is to say he hasmade them proper nouns to emphasize their significance) emotions, she hasdestroyed them in him. We then come to the final conclusion: “N
OW
,
IF
 
 THOU
 
WOULD
ST
 
WHEN
 
ALL
 
HAVE
 
GIVEN
 
HIM
 [love]
OVER
, F
ROM
 
DEATH
 
 TO
 
LIFE
 
 THOUGH
 
MIGHT
ST
 
HIM
 
 YET
 
RECOVER
Saying that there is still hope
 THOU
, a much more intimate word thanyou, might save their love.A brief analysis of the sonnet, but how does it differ from others that also carrythe broad title of departure as their theme. How does it compare, first of all, to
Remember: Christina Rossetti 
? This poem is, if summed up in a sentence, awoman giving her partner a major “guilt trip” for breaking up with her. They arein this way similar as they both concentrate on the “break up” of relationships.
Since there’s no help
is from the point of view of a man who initiated a “breakup” of a relationship while the other is from a woman attempting to make herpartner feel guilty for breaking up with her. An interesting question to ask wouldbe: if there is a difference in the way that male and female brains are wired,does this have an impact on how similar minded people of different genderswould explore the same thought through a sonnet. There is also a hugestructural difference in the sonnets in that they are of two different models:
Remember 
is written in the Petrarchan form and
Since there’s no help
iswritten in the Shakespearean. The models suit each sonnet very well, with theprogression of 
Since there’s no help
through the tree verses and
Remember 
’s two toned approach with the first verse more as an introduction,while the second “amping up” the spitefulness.
Remember 
has an air of death,the ultimate departure, to it not seen at all in the
Since there’s no help
.
 Just went to Wills West to read Will Wickman’s essay.Seems pretty good! Ended up staying an hour therewatching a rubbish film before I realised that I needed todo this urgently.
It refers to
 THE
 
SILENT
 
LAND
;
WHERE
 
 YOU
 
CAN
 
NO
 
LONGER
 
HOLD
 
ME
 
BY
 
 THE
 
HAND
when thatphysical connection is removed from them. That holding by the hand, as3
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