Study Guide

Sonnet 94 What's Up With the Title?

By William Shakespeare

What's Up With the Title?

Not much, actually. Sonnet 94 is the 94th sonnet in a sequence of 154 sonnets, penned by the late, great William Shakespeare. We're betting ol' Willy wasn't feeling too creative when he slapped that title on. But no matter—the poem speaks for itself.

The fact that it's number 94 tells us that the poem falls in the first section of Shakespeare's sonnets, which, most scholars agree, are poetically addressed to an unidentified young man. Most folks call this group of sonnets the Fair Youth sequence.

Does that give us any analytical ammo? You bet your sonneteering behind it does. Think about it this way: back in the Renaissance, when Shakespeare was churning these suckers out, it was seen as noble and good to exercise power with restraint. A-ha! Now there's a lightbulb moment.

If you read this poem as cautioning folks to use their powers carefully, to avoid hurting others, and to keep their mad skills under humble wraps, well, doesn't it make perfect sense that this would be addressed to a young guy? We mean, who's cockier then a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed lad ready to take on the world? So maybe Shakespeare's just telling this kid to cool his jets, lest he meet with a nasty infection and become corrupted by his talents.