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Analysis

Wit, Bitterness, Lots of Ideas, Sonnet Form

As with many of Shakespeare’s sonnets, Sonnet 137 reveals a deep-seated anger and bitterness at the failure of love. And yet, like all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, this bitterness doesn’t stop the poet’s mind from working. In fact, it tends to act as more of a stimulus for greater creativity. This comes out in the sheer wit of the poem, which delights in using multiple meanings of words, sometimes hiding obscene double-entendres just underneath the surface. Related to this wit aspect is the sheer number of ideas that get crammed into the poem, as the scene shifts from the speaker talking to the god of Love, to a harbor full of ships, to some plots of land, to the legal lingo of the poem’s conclusion. And, of course, you’ve also got the masterful use of the sonnet form, a Shakespearean trademark so… Shakespearean that they named the form after him.

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