I can’t abide Shakespeare. His Olde English is too old and it gets in the way of his message and the rhythm of his lines. We expect good poetry to flow like water from a faucet, instead, Shakespeare too often is a sputtering spigot of guess and analysis.
Never-the-less, his sonnets are well regarded to this day. I’m going to look at his first here and then move back to modern poets. There are some nice touches here that somehow survive the centuries.
Update: I wrote too soon. I liked the phrase “thine own bright eyes” but the rest is indeed a research project.
BeamingNotes.com for example, says Sonnet 1 is:
“A procreation sonnet within the Fair Youth sequence. The poem is essentially about the dynamic relationship between transience and continuity of beauty. It expounds the fact that beauty is temporary at an individual level but achieves permanency at the lineage level.”
Okay, fine. I’m sure with the tenth or eleventh reading I’d be more attracted to this poem. If extended analysis need be, however, I am more drawn to The Wasteland (internal link) or The Love Song of Alfred J Prufrock. (internal link).
Sorry to give up so quickly, William, but I need magic and movement. I know you have it but I want to see it more easily as easiness most characterizes or enables those qualities. Another time.
From Fairest Creatures we Desire Increase (Sonnet 1)
By William Shakespeare (1564–1610)
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory;
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And, tender churl, mak’st waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.