Sonnet 29

Sonnet 29

When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

Sonnet 29 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It's a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.


Sonnet 29 by William Shakespeare begins with the speaker describing moments of great sadness, in which he cries over his "outcast state" by himself. This "outcast state" may refer to either a generally unfavorable standing in society or a lack of financial success in the playwriting field. One possible explanation for this lack of success is the closing of London theatres in 1592 due to a plague epidemic. Another suggested reason for Shakespeare's "outcast state" is an instance of harsh public criticism of Shakespeare by fellow playwright Robert Greene. The attack may have had a deep impact on Shakespeare. [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008] Yet another possibility of the meaning of the "outcast state" is that, rather simply, the man was outcast. The speaker then says that in these times he "trouble [s] deaf heaven with his bootless cries", meaning he feels his prayers and exhortations are to no avail. The word "trouble" has particular interest because it suggests that he believes his prayers bother heaven, which shows a general exhaustion of hope and faith on the part of the speaker. He continues by wishing himself to be like someone with more prospects, someone more attractive, someone with more friends, and someone with greater artistic skill and range of opportunity. The speaker then reveals that he is least satisfied in the things he enjoys most.:Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
:Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
:Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
:With what I most enjoy contented least;
The "turn" at the beginning of the third quatrain occurs when the poet by chance ("haply") happens to think upon the young man to whom the poem is addressed, which makes him assume a more optimistic view of his own life. The speaker compares such a change in mood to a lark rising from the early morning darkness at sunrise, singing "hymns at heaven's gate." This expression was most probably the inspiration for American poet Wallace Stevens when he wrote the poem The Worms at Heaven's Gate in Harmonium. The couplet is an emotional declaration that remembrance of his friend's love is enough for him to value his position in life more than a king's. The repeated use of "state" is notable in line 2 and 10 to mean the Poets general condition, in line 14, with double meaning, it can be read to mean a country.


*Rufus Wainwright put the sonnet to music for the album "When Love Speaks", which was a 2002 album of poetry recitals. The CD also features performances by Annie Lennox, Trevor Eve, Bryan Ferry and Alan Rickman.
*The 1968 Canadian play (and 1971 film version) "Fortune and Men's Eyes" takes its title from this sonnet.
*In episode 3 "Siege" from season 1 of "Beauty and The Beast", Vincent portrayed by Ron Perlman reads this sonnet to Catherine played by Linda Hamilton.
* Edward Lewis, portrayed by Richard Gere, reads this sonnet to Vivian Ward, played by Julia Roberts, during their scene at the park in "Pretty Woman."
* On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 2, Episode "The Measure of a Man", Comm. Bruce Maddox reads the first two lines of the sonnet out of Lt. Comm. Data's Shakespeare book.
*Actor Matthew Macfadyen recites this poem in "Essential Poems."

External links

* [,pageNum-32.html CliffsNotes on the sonnet]


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