You are on page 1of 12

William Shakespeares

Sonnet 116
Let me not to the marriage of true
minds
Full text
1. Let me not to the marriage of true minds
2. Admit impediments. Love is not love
3. Which alters when it alteration finds,
4. Or bends with the remover to remove:
5. O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
6. That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
7. It is the star to every wandering bark,
8. Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
9. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
10. Within his bending sickle's compass come:
11. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
12. But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
13. If this be error and upon me proved,
14. I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
What is a sonnet?
A poem of 14 lines.
There are two types:
The Italian/Petrarchan sonnet:
A sonnet consisting of an octave with the rhyme
scheme abba abba, followed by a sestet with the
rhyme scheme: cdecde or cdcdcd

Shakespearean/Elizabethan sonnet:
A sonnet consisting of three quatrains (four lines
each) and a rhyming couplet with the rhyme
scheme: abab cdcd efef gg

Line 1 - 2
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.

The speaker says he would not like to prevent
the marriage of people whos minds are true
to each other.
Links to the traditional church ceremony when
the congregation is asked if they know of any
reason why the couple should not be joined.

Line 2 - 4
Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:

If a persons love changes whenever there is the
slightest chance or is so easily removed then
that is not true love.
Love should not be affected by outside forces
such as alteration or removers

Line 5 - 6
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

The poet now describes the qualities of love
as being a permanent emotion.
The speaker uses the metaphor of love being a
ever-fixed mark which can face tempests
(storms) and remain unmoved.



Exclamation mark
indicates a strong
reaction.
Line 7 - 8
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Line 7 makes reference to sailing. Early sailors used stars to
navigate the ocean.
the star = The North Star
wandering bark = lost ship
Although a ships height and other dimensions can be
measured to calculate its worth the reality cannot be
known till it is on the water.
Just like love it is a constant in the world, but the extent of
love between two people can never be measured.



Line 9 - 10
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:

Love is not affected by time even though the
physical features of beauty rosy lips and cheeks
are all destroyed by time.
his bending sickle introduces the
ideaof death and personifies
death as a man



Time given
importance by the
capital letter.
Line 11 - 12
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

Love does not change over time it stands
firm for all eternity.
Hours and weeks seem like a lot of time as we go
about our daily lives but in the context of Time
it is brief (short).


Refers to Time again
Line 13 14: The rhyming couplet
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

The speaker (Shakespeare himself) says that if
he is wrong about love then
nothing he has written is real and
nobody has ever been truly in love.
Seeing as both the above are obviously untrue,
then Shakespeare is proved correct about love.


Summary:
Sonnet 116 is about love in its most ideal form. It
praises lovers who have come to each other
freely, and enter into a relationship based on
trust and understanding.
The first four lines reveal the poet's pleasure in
love that is constant and strong, and will not
"alter when it alteration finds."
The following lines proclaim that true love is
indeed an "ever-fix'd mark" which will survive any
crisis.
In lines 7-8, the poet claims that we may be able
to measure love to some degree, but this does
not mean we fully understand it.
Love's actual worth cannot be known it remains
a mystery.
The remaining lines of the third quatrain (9-12),
confirms the perfect nature of love that is
unaffected throughout time and remains so "ev'n
to the edge of doom", or death.
In the final couplet, the poet declares that, if he is
mistaken about the constant, unmovable nature
of perfect love, then he must take back all his
writings on love, truth, and faith.
Moreover, he adds that, if he has in fact judged
love inappropriately, no man has ever really
loved, in the ideal sense that the poet professes.