“True Love” by Shakespeare – Poem/Sonnet Review

Shakespeare Sonnet 116

This post is written as part of the 6th anniversary celebration of my blog.



The poem “True Love” is William Shakespeare’s sonnet number 116. It belongs to the poet’s first series of sonnets addressed to Mr. W.H – a young man possessing excellent physical charm. Love, as was customary, is the theme dealt with in the poem. The inaugurating line “Let me not to the marriage of true minds” immediately sets forth what the poem is going to tell us. Love that changes when circumstances change is not love. It is mere sensuality or lust. Once two true minds get united in love, nothing can change or separate them. No remover can remove, can even bend true love. In other words, no external force or influence, however strong, can sever the bond between true minds united in love.

True love is not time’s fool. Things and beings grow and decay in time. With the passage of time the rosy lips and cheeks of youth lose their lustre, their charm. Physical charm is subject to the ravages of time. Lust confines itself to physical charm. With the physique withering, lust dissolves. It does not happen so with true love which is the marriage of true minds. True love does not wane with the passage of time.

Shakespeare speaks with conviction that nobody can disprove his views about true love. As none can say that Shakespeare did not write this poem, nobody can say that true love is inconstant, transient. The exclamation ‘O no!’ at the beginning of quatrain two reinforces the resoluteness and infrangibility of love. This has been deftly done by the apt use of the pole-star (an ever-fixed mark) metaphor built into imagery. The pole-star is an ever-fixed on the northern sky. The pole-star was their guide. It was “the star to every wandering bark.” Similarly true love looks on circumstances bringing in change, but it remains constant, unchanged.

In the third quatrain Shakespeare speaks about the time transcending aspect of true love – in the expression “Love’s not Time’s fool”. Here time is personified. During Shakespeare’s time the word ‘fool’ meant ‘doll’. Love is not a playing on the hand of time. Time is a great transmutative force. Things and beings grow and decay with the passage of time.

Aspect of youthful charm like rosy lips and cheeks are subject to the ravages of time. Physical charm is transient. Lust, based on physical charm, is transitory, temporal. True love, on the contrary, is above and beyond the reach of time. It is immune from the ravages of time.
True love has the ability to endure. True love “bears it out even to the edge of doom”. Dooms Day or the Day of Judgement is a biblical belief. One dose not knows when it would come and whether it would come at all. The dooms day will see the end of life and the universe. True love would endure, would live till that time. The implication is that true love is everlasting.

The statement made in the couplet at the end of the poem makes it apparent that the poet’s analysis of the nature of true love is not solely based on his personal experience of feeling. If what he has said about true love be proved wrong, no man ever loved. He never wrote. No doubt the poet’s views about true love are what have been often stated and written about.

Shakespeare’s sonnet number 116 is a superb example of the poet’s artistic craftsmanship, his mastery over language, his ability of creating pictures with words and imbibing these pictures with life to voice his thoughts Shakespeare is a past master in the choice and use of metaphors as evidenced by the metaphor of the pole-star in this poem.


About Romila –

Romila, who blogs at Novemberschild.com is writer, blogger and editor by profession. She loves fashion, shoes, bags and food. For her, gadgets are simply sexy and she is always found with her Ipad. She likes to relax with a cup of hot chocolate or chilled soda with a book or watching movies or listening to music under a starry night. She is a certified homebody when the moment calls for it but at the same time she loves to get out and explore from time to time. And not to miss out, she is genuinely a fun person and very friendly. You can reach her on twitter @romspeaks.



Read all posts from the 6th anniversary celebration of the blog – #6YrsOfHappiness


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