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William Shakespeare’s poem “Sonnet 116 is a sonnet in Shakespearean form. The subject of this poem is love and the main theme is that love endures. The poet-speaker is a man who is describing love with a stately tone. Judging by the knowledge the speaker has about love, it is probably safe to assume that he is a mature adult. Throughout the poem, the poet-speaker discusses how true love cannot have alterations, how love is comparable to a guide, and finally how it can withstand time itself.
The first stanza in this poem is a quatrain and its rhyme scheme is abab. Shakespeare uses alliteration, assonance, consonance, and repetition to develop this stanza, which, as a whole, states that love does not change. The first line contains an example of alliteration in the words “me,” “marriage,” and “minds.” In this line, he is referring to love as “the marriage of true minds.” He uses the alliteration of the “m” sound to draw attention to his view of love as being a type of marriage. The words “admit” and “impediments” in the second line are examples of both assonance and consonance because of the identical “i” and “m” sounds. These two words placed beside each other help give the poem a flow that makes it much more pleasing to the ear, not only because of the assonance and consonance, but also because the words almost rhyme with each other. The second, third, and fourth lines of this stanza contain repetition. “Love,” “alter,” and “remove” are repeated to put emphasis on the points that he is trying to make. He is saying that if a person is really in love he or she would not have to make changes in their lover to make themself happy, and that love cannot be taken back.
The second stanza of this poem is a quatrain with a rhyme scheme of cdcd. This stanza contains assonance, a very clever metaphor, and personification in stating that love is ever-lasting and can be used as a guide in life. The words “star” and “bark” in line eight of the poem contain assonance of the “a” sound. Shakespeare uses this assonance to bring attention to the metaphor he is using, which compares love to the North Star, which is a guide for barks, or ships. By following their hearts, people can use love as a guide to get them through life. Also, the North Star is relatively permanent, and Shakespeare says love is an “ever-fixed mark” in line five of the poem. Line eight refers to a star when it says “Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.” Stars have no ownership nor a set gender, so this line contains personification. Shakespeare speaks of love as if it were human to express the importance of it.
The third stanza of this poem is another quatrain and its rhyme scheme is efef. Personification, assonance, and consonance help to get the point across that love is independent of time. In lines eight and nine, Shakespeare says “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle’s compass come.” Even though beauty fades with time, love does not. Shakespeare personifies time to help express that love does not operate on any specific clock. He even capitalizes “Time” as if it were a real person’s name. He also personifies death in line nine when he refers to the bending sickle, which would be the weapon of the infamous Grimm Reaper. Death can take away physical traits, but not true love. Assonance can be found in line eleven in the words “brief” and “week.” Shakespeare purposely includes this assonance to add to the rhythm of the poem while he expresses his view of love as not yielding to time or any other force. The use of the words “but” and “bear” in line twelve of the poem is an example of alliteration. Shakespeare uses these words to help express that love can survive anything on its own despite the pressures and influences of time.
The fourth and final stanza of this poem is a couplet with a rhyme scheme of gg. In this stanza, the poet-speaker boasts how confident he is in his opinion of love, suggesting that if his opinion is wrong, no one has ever loved. The end rhyme of these two lines is slant rhyme because “proved” and “loved” do not rhyme exactly. In line fourteen, the poet-speaker declares “I never writ, nor no man ever loved.” The words “never,” “no,” and “nor” are an example of alliteration. These negative words are used to strengthen the poet-speaker’s certainty of his opinion of love. Line fourteen also has internal rhyme. “Never” and “ever” are positioned before the word “loved”. Shakespeare uses this internal rhyme to make it clear that the speaker has full faith in his own words.
William Shakespeare’s poem “Sonnet 116 is an excellent poem. Using multiple literary tools, such as metaphors, personification, and internal rhyme, Shakespeare has created a masterpiece that describes love by what it is and is not. Because of the brilliant use of tools and flow in this poem, it will remain one of the best poems ever written.