Sonnet 33: Full many a glorious morning have I seen

As spring begins to blossom in full force, we turn to William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 33, which uses nature as a powerful example of the changes inherent in life and how we can choose to address them.

As you read through this sonnet, consider why Shakespeare chose to describe the nature of a relationship with the scene of a beautiful sky that suddenly changes to one of gloomy overcast. Do you think that such a scene suggests the necessity of accepting the change in our lives, or do you find that it suggests more the necessity of embracing life’s moments of beauty? Whichever you choose, do you believe the speaker has accomplished that by the end of the sonnet?

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.

Discussion

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