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Full many a glorious morning have I seen (Sonnets XXXIII) -- William Shakespeare

(Poem #219) Full many a glorious morning have I seen (Sonnets XXXIII)
 Full many a glorious morning have I seen
 Flatter the mountain-tops with sovereign eye,
 Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
 Gilding pale streams with heavenly alchemy;
 Anon permit the basest clouds to ride
 With ugly rack on his celestial face,
 And from the forlorn world his visage hide,
 Stealing unseen to west with this disgrace:
 Even so my sun one early morn did shine
 With all triumphant splendor on my brow;
 But out, alack! he was but one hour mine;
 The region cloud hath mask'd him from me now.
       Yet him for this my love no whit disdaineth;
       Suns of the world may stain when heaven's sun staineth.
-- William Shakespeare
One noticeable thing about Shakespeare's sonnets is how commonplace the
underlying metaphors and images are. Most of them have the same general
theme, and the specific subjects - even given the large extent to which
Shakespeare has influenced English literature, do not seem especially

However, this does not in any way diminish what is undoubtedly the finest
collection of sonnets the language has produced. Shakespeare's genius lay
not in novelty, but in his use of language; his mastery of subtle nuances
and the way he could breathe new life into even the most timeworn of themes.

Even so in today's poem - if you've read any of Shakespeare's sonnets, the
sequence of images is instantly familiar. Time triumphs over flesh, and Love
over all. However, the language, and the images it evokes, are simply

A final comment - most poems have their main impact either at the beginning
or at the end. Shakespeare's sonnets definitely belong to the former
category, having their most beautiful images, their best-phrased lines in
the first quatrain or two. It seems somewhat counterintuitive, since the
form might be expected to pack the impact into the final couplet, but while
I can call to mind several of his sonnets with memorable opening verses, I
can think of few with memorable endings.


Look up the other Sonnets in the minstrel's archive,

52 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
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The final couplet of sonnet 29 sends a thrill through me. This could be your exception

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