Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29

The sonnet, however, is also important for the fact that conventional tropes of the sonnet are employed by the poet to create a new idea. The narrator here does not pine away for the beloved. The love of the beloved is assured him and this is what gives him the confidence to deal with the rest of the world and his own troubles. Shakespeare’s trouble during the period in which Sonnet 29 was written was mainly due to the shutting down of theatres is London due to the plague. This meant that he had to tour the outskirts of London in order to find any sort of work. The financial misery of this time was great and caused him great worry. He devoted a large part of his energies to the production of his sonnets as well. However, it has always been ambiguous whether the troubles that Shakespeare talks of during the course of the poem are those that are reflected from his life or the ones that love sonnets usually talk of (Mabillard). The difficulties of understanding this arise primarily from the conflict and tension that builds up in the first half of the poem. This subsequently eases as one moves to the sestet where the poet speaks of the respite that he is able to achieve from his lover. The narrator turns from his misery to happiness like a “lark at break of day arising/ From sullen earth” (Shakespeare). The likening of the narrator to a lark complicates the situation as one may look upon the lark as an embodiment of the artist. This makes one wonder whether the figure of the narrator is largely derived from the person of William Shakespeare or not. There are however, certain interpretations that argue against an association between the persona of the narrator and the persona of the poet. Such biographical interpretations only serve to localize the focus of the analysis, thus reducing the depth of the analysis. The importance of the poet, according to such commentators, is limited to providing the text of the poem after which the poem is free for interpretation by the numerous readers of it. The importance of this interpretation stems from the theories that were advanced by the French thinker, Roland Barthes, who argued against biographical information being a part of analyses of literary works. According to such analyses, the work of art needs to be placed in its historical and formal sites and analyzed in those aspects (Stubbes). The poem, while analyzed through the formal aspects too, yields many meanings. The lament of the lover is expressed in the first part of the sonnet. Worldly possessions are spoken of with envy and bitterness in the first half. Even here, however, wealth as it is known in conventional terms is denounced and it is mostly expressed in transcendental terms. The poet is unhappy not about the lack of wealth but about the fact that heaven would not answer his “bootless cries” (Shakespeare). He wishes to be similar in state, to not a person who is wealthy, but to one who is “more rich in hope” (Shakespeare) than he. The ideas that are outlined in the first half, thus, if analyzed, keeping out the biographical references, do point back to a few of the concerns that Shakespeare as a poet had.

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