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Sonnet 147

Sonnet 147

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Published by: deeyana88 on Apr 02, 2011
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Sonnet 147 
My love is as a fever, longing still
For that which longer nurseth the disease,Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,The uncertain sickly appetite to please.My reason, the physician to my love,Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
which (i.e. sexual desire) medicine forbade
Past cure I am, now reason is past care,And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen's are,At random from the truth vainly express'd;
haphazardly, far from the truth, foolishly expressed
For I have sworn thee fair and thought thee bright,Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.1. Identify what kind of sonnet this is, and comment on its rhyming scheme and major structural divisions.
Sonnet 147 is classified as a Shakespearean sonnet. It is divided into two parts. Thefirst part consists of three quatrains (a set of four lines) and the second part consists of acouplet (two lines). This structure allows Shakespeare to establish the conceit of his thoughtwhich is conveyed through a metaphor. The metaphor is presented in the first line of Sonnet147;
My love is as a fever, longing stil
. Throughout the quatrains, the metaphor is developedeffectively by describing the episodes of a high fever. Quatrain one describes the fever,quatrain two explains the persona seeking for medical treatment and quatrain three tells theconsequences faced by the persona for abandoning his common sense. Due to the developingquatrains, Shakespeare can delay the volta in his sonnet to the couplet unlike Petrarchansonnet which volta (thematic turn) comes after the sestet. Thus, the couplet of Sonnet 147concludes Shakespeare’s thought by describing the lover’s true colour. The division of meaning is parallel to the division of rhyme in this sonnet. Each quatrain portrays different1
ENGLISH LITERATURE (ENGL 121)ASSIGNMENT 1: SONNETNORDIANA MAT YAACOBOTAGO 1 COHORT 1meaningful images and has different repetitive rhyme. The rhyme scheme for the firstquatrain is ABAB, CDCD for the second quatrain followed by EFEF for the third quatrain.The couplet on the other hand is equal in rhyme; GG. The overall rhyming scheme is ABABCDCD EFEF GG.2. Copy out the first four lines and scan them.
× / × / × / × / × /My love| is as| a fe|ver, long|ing still× / × / × / × / × /For that| which lon|ger nur|seth the| disease,× / × / × / × / × /Feeding| on that| which doth| preserve| the ill,× / × / / × / × × /The un|certain| sickly| appetite| to please.Hale (1992) once elucidated that “a word was sometimes pronounce differently when itspoem was compose” (p.8). Thus, I am of the opinion that the fourth foot of line 4 |appetite|should be pronounced as /'æpta t/ instead of /'æp ta t/. Perhaps the sound [ ] was elided by the
ɪ ɪ ɪ ɪ
 speakers of English during Shakespeare’s time making it being pronounced as a disyllabicword rather than a trisyllabic word. This manner of pronunciation also makes the pentameter of Shakespearean sonnet possible.3. Using the appropriate terminology, identify and comment on the dominantmeter.
The dominant meter in sonnet 147 is iambic pentameter which characterised almostall Shakespeare’s sonnet. Iamb is a foot (division) with two syllables composed of anunstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable (×/). Each line in Sonnet 147 is constitutedby five repetitive metrical feet (mostly iambs) known as pentameter.4. Using the appropriate terminology, identify two examples of a metrical foot anywhere in2
ENGLISH LITERATURE (ENGL 121)ASSIGNMENT 1: SONNETNORDIANA MAT YAACOBOTAGO 1 COHORT 1the sonnet which deviate from the dominant beat. Explain what effect these disruptions haveon the sonnet’s meaning.
The first three lines in Sonnet 147 are regular in meter reflecting the introduction tothe conceit of this sonnet which is the persona’s passionate, destructive love towards hisbeloved. Most irregularities occur in the second quatrain as the persona realises that he is notusing his good judgement when his beloved is concerned. This can be seen in the first foot of line 6 and 7. Trochee:
which is opposite of iamb can stand on its own to create thepowerful effect of rage that the physician laid on the persona for disregarding his commonsense. Due his reckless action, the persona’s common sense is said to have left him. Thusspondee:
Hath left 
takes effect. Spondee:
Hath left 
is further emphasised by the pyrrhic:
and me
to show the seriousness of the situation described.5. From the first four lines identify the major image or conceit and show how it is developedin the rest of the poem.
The first quatrain of sonnet 147 introduces the persona’s inability to prevent himself from falling more deeply in love with his beloved. The major image in the first quatrain is afever. Shakespeare equalised the persona’s destructive love to a fever that can make his bodyached all over. The word
is used well as it can be associated to an illness or a medicalcondition in which you have a very high temperature or to a situation in which you feel veryexcited or feel very strongly about. (Fox et al., 2005). The word
sickly appetite
inthis sonnet are possibly metaphors that refer to the persona’s sexual desire towards hisbeloved.
My love is as a fever, longing still For that which longer nurseth the disease,Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
In the second quatrain, the persona tries to reason his feeling using his common sensebut failed. The image of a fever is expanded as Shakespeare likened the persona’s reason to a3

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