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Sonnet 94 Admiration Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #1

They that have pow'r to hurt, and will do none, (1)

As we talk about in our section on Sonnet 94's "Speaker," one of the weird things about the poem is that the speaker almost never out-and-out tells us what he thinks about the people he's gabbing about. Instead, we just have to look at what he says about those people, decide for ourselves if it's a good thing or a bad thing, and use that to figure out the speaker's emotional attitude. Now, we don't know about you, but we think there is simply something about line 1 that spells admiration. It might be the way it sounds: just try reading it aloud, and hearing those alliterations on "th" at the beginning of the line; the, well, powerful sound of the word "pow'r"; and the punchy, staccato rhythm of the final "and will do none." There's just something about it that makes these people seem impressive—regardless of whether it's praising or criticizing them, don't you think?

Quote #2

That do not do the thing they most do show, (2)

From this line we also get a sense of the speaker's amazement. By emphasizing that their ability to hurt others is literally the thing that the powerful people seem most likely to do ("the thing they most do show"), the speaker makes it seem all the more amazing that they don't do it. And he highlights the weirdness through the paradoxical sounding language at the beginning of the line, "That do not do," which gets emphasized by the repeated "do" towards the end of the line. All of these factors suggest that the speaker admires the powerful people, at least in some way—as long as they're not dictators or anything.

Quote #3

Who moving others are themselves as stone,
Unmovèd, cold, and to temptation slow— (3-4)

Here, once again, even though the speaker doesn't explicitly tell us that he admires the powerful people, the way he uses his words is enough to give us the hint. Line 3 is similar to line 2, in that it draws a striking contrast between how the powerful people appear on the outside and how they are on the inside. But even that isn't enough: line 4 has to go and expand on the idea of "as stone" by adding three new ideas. Given that the sonnet form only gives a poet 14 lines to work with, you can bet that anything he's willing to give up a full line for has got to be pretty important. We're definitely picking up on some admiration here.

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