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Analysis: Allusions

When poets refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Biblical Shout-Outs

  • Line 1: Genesis 2:7 and 1 Corinthians 15:45-50
  • Line 2: Matthew 6:28-29
  • Lines 3-14: 1 Timothy 6:12-19
  • Line 13: 1 Corinthians 15:54
  • Line 14: (Judgment Day) 1 Corinthians 15:26; Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4

Major Literary Influences on the Sonnets

Shakespeare may be the best sonnet writer of all time but he didn't exactly invent the wheel. Here's what you need to know about the major poets that influenced Shakespeare's sonnet writing:

  • Francis Petrarch (1304-1374): This 14th-century Italian guy is the Mac Daddy of all love sonneteers. He's famous for the 366 Italian (a.k.a. Petrarchan) sonnets that appear in a book called Il Canzoniere (Song Book) a.k.a. Rime Sparse (Scattered Rhymes).

    Petrarch's sonnets are addressed to a hot girl named "Laura," who seems to enjoy torturing the poet. (Kind of like the mistress in Shakespeare's Sonnet 133 is accused of getting off on torturing the speaker and his buddy.) Petrarch's "smokin' hot yet unattainable girl" becomes a major cliché in 16th-century English literature—we're talking everything from Romeo and Juliet to Shakespeare's Sonnets.
  • Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542): This 16th-century English dude made sonnets cool in England when he translated a bunch of Petrarch's work into English. Basically, he did for sonnets in the 1500's what Bon Jovi did for power ballads in the 1980's. Wyatt's stuff appeared in the first ever printed English poetry anthology, Tottel's Miscelleny (1557).
  • Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586): The English poet famous for writing Astrophil and Stella (published 1591), which was the first ever English sonnet cycle. It contained 108 sonnets and 11 songs. Hmm. Not too shabby.
  • Edmund Spenser (1552-1599): Yep. Another English poet. Spenser wrote Amoretti (published 1595), a sonnet cycle dedicated to his wife. Aww. He was another major influence on Shakespeare.

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