Sonnet 25

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Sonnet 25

Let those who are in favour with their stars
Of public honour and proud titles boast,
Whilst I, whom fortune of such triumph bars
Unlook'd for joy in that I honour most.
Great princes' favourites their fair leaves spread
But as the marigold at the sun's eye,
And in themselves their pride lies buried,
For at a frown they in their glory die.
The painful warrior famoused for fight,
After a thousand victories once foiled,
Is from the book of honour razed quite,
And all the rest forgot for which he toiled:
Then happy I, that love and am beloved,
Where I may not remove nor be removed.

–William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnet 25 is among the first of the sequence to deal explicitly with the difference in class between Shakespeare and the subject of the poems. It prefigures the more famous treatment of this difference in Sonnet 29.


Let those who have been favored by fortune boast about their social standing; I, who am hindered by fortune, am happy with the unanticipated pleasure of your love and regard. Prince's favorites, like marigolds that survive only as long as the sun shines on them, last only as long as that royal favor continues. A great soldier loses his reputation completely if he loses just one battle. I am, then, more truly fortunate, because the pleasure I take in you cannot be removed from me by any means.

Source and analysis[edit]

John Kerrigan notes the echo of the prologue to Romeo and Juliet in the astrological metaphor of the first quatrain; he notes that the image severs reward from justice, making fortune a mere caprice. "Unlooked for" has occasioned some comment. Henry Charles Beeching argued for an adverbial meaning, such as "surprisingly" or "unexpectedly." George Wyndham glossed it as "not favored in the way a favorite is." Edmond Malone noted the resemblance of lines 5-8 to Henry VIII 3.2.352-8.

The quarto reads "worth" at the end of line nine. Edward Capell proposed the emendation "might," which is comprehensible in terms of typesetting. Lewis Theobald proposed "fight," which is now widely accepted; he also proposed, alternately, that "worth" be retained and 11's "quite" be changed to "forth." John Payne Collier is among the few critics to take this alternative seriously. George Steevens opined that "the quatrain is not worth the labor that has been bestowed on it."

Edward Dowden notes that the marigold was most commonly mentioned in Renaissance literature as a heliotrope, with the various symbolic associations connected to that type of plant; William James Rolfe finds an analogous reference to the plant in George Wither's poetry.




  • Alden, Raymond (1916). The Sonnets of Shakespeare, with Variorum Reading and Commentary. Houghton-Mifflin, Boston.
  • Baldwin, T. W. (1950). On the Literary Genetics of Shakspeare's Sonnets. University of Illinois Press, Urbana.
  • Booth, Stephen (1977). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Yale University Press, New Haven.
  • Dowden, Edward (1881). Shakespeare's Sonnets. London.
  • Evans, G. Blakemore, Anthony Hecht, (1996). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Hubler, Edwin (1952). The Sense of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
  • Kerrigan, John (1987). Shakespeare's Sonnets. Penguin, New York.
  • Schoenfeldt, Michael (2007). The Sonnets: The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s Poetry. Patrick Cheney, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Tyler, Thomas (1989). Shakespeare’s Sonnets. London D. Nutt.
  • Vendler, Helen (1997). The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

External links[edit]