The art of Shakespeares sonnets

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Sometimes reading the Sonnets before and after the commentary gives me back the feeling of learning to read again.

The teacher would ask a question, and I knew the answer before I could really commit to it. My answer seemed too internal, murky, too my own, maybe too easy to be true. Later, of course, I could read, but the moment of learning itself--like the moment the leaf grows in those photosynthesis films--is always missed, never experienced.

She diligently, even stringently, employs her technical surveys, and what emerges from beneath their grid is surprising, substantial, evanescent. She is interested in the inner life of the speaker and refuses any political judgment of content. Judging the presence or absence of authorial irony is a matter of poetic tact in reading. She intends us to believe Shakespeare, separate from his speaker, sides with the horse.


Though her tone is maternal one longs for an adverb to imply a kind of female avuncularity , her emotional temper is expansive and worldly. She prefers the Sonnets to the young man to those to the Dark Lady. She has many ways into a poem. After identifying several Sonnets as reply poems, she goes ahead and writes out dialogues between the young man and the speaker, which could have taken place just before the sonnet begins.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 (Analysis and Explanation)

A factor in all her interpretations is her deeply oral conception of poetry. She first heard these Sonnets as a child, recited by her mother.

The amazing web site of Shakespeare's Sonnets

She herself learned all by heart. Her ear training is profound and often yielding. The book is accompanied by a CD onto which Vendler has recorded the Sonnets. Out of the depths of my heart will come a quotation completely unbidden. On any occasion when a response is called for, what usually comes to my lips is a line from some poem or other.

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When she damns Shakespeare, she damns gently. In a way, a straight-through reading of the book seems false, as one would more naturally leaf through the Sonnets, according to mood.

Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Form and Meaning in Lyric Poetry

At first, her responses feel like individual essays, but about halfway in you realize huge orchestral movement is being made from the resonating phrases. The volume is sprinkled with pertinent references to Keats, Hopkins, Stevens, Heaney, Yeats, Frost and fewer than I personally would have expected to Marlowe.

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Vendler argues that the couplet in the Sonnets should be taken not as a resolution to the poem but as a coda, with many possible relations to the body of the work summarizing, reinforcing, refuting, ironic. I accord her the same stature I accord Joan Didion and Alice Munro--contemporary artists of prose fiction, women and personal icons. She quoted them often, and had memorized many of them.

The final two sonnets of the sequence are very different from the others. They move away from the narrative described above and instead draw upon ancient Greek myths. Share Flipboard Email. Lee Jamieson has a M. He lectured for six years on theater studies at Stratford-upon-Avon College in the U.

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