Sonnet 31

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Sonnet 31

Thy bosom is endeared with all hearts,
Which I by lacking have supposed dead;
And there reigns Love, and all Love's loving parts,
And all those friends which I thought buried.
How many a holy and obsequious tear
Hath dear religious love stol'n from mine eye,
As interest of the dead, which now appear
But things remov'd that hidden in thee lie!
Thou art the grave where buried love doth live,
Hung with the trophies of my lovers gone,
Who all their parts of me to thee did give,
That due of many now is thine alone:
Their images I lov'd, I view in thee,
And thou (all they) hast all the all of me.

–William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnet 31 is one of the numerous sonnets in his sequence addressed to a well-born young man. Developing an idea introduced at the end of Sonnet 30, this sonnet figures the young man's superiority in terms of the possession of all the love the speaker has ever experienced.


You contain or possess all the loves of people that I, because I lacked them, supposed dead; love reigns in your heart, and all the parts of love, and all those friends I had thought dead. I used to cry as if at funerals, for people who appeared to be dead, when in fact those I thought dead had simply lodged with you. You are, indeed, like a grave where buried love is resurrected; you are hung with the trophies of my past love, and those past loves gave to you the parts of me that they once owned. The love I once owed to them is now due to you alone, and the loves I once had I now see in you, and you have all of me.

I give to you all the love I have ever known, which, having lost this love, it was as if dead; so only in this netherworld existed my love, along with everything that sustains it, together with the dearest parts of myself which seemed lost forever. Looking back, well-intentioned but wrongly did I waste on a stale un-living that was not real love, paying with who I am for what seemed right, which now shows itself to have been in you all along dormant and waiting for me! You are my salvation, I adorn you with all that I am and everything I have done, you resurrect my love and it pledges itself to you, what I gave everyone and so lost now is only yours. Joyfully I now see it all living within you, and you, we united, are my everything.

Source and analysis[edit]

Critics such as Malone, Collier, Dowden and Larsen glossed "obsequious" as "funereal"[citation needed];[1] others have preferred the simpler "dutiful". The quarto's "there" in line 8 is generally amended to "thee," although certain critics have defended the quarto reading.

"Religious love" is frequently compared to a similar phrase used ironically in A Lover's Complaint; G. Wilson Knight connects the phrase to a "suprapersonal reality created by love" in the sequence as a whole.

Numerous editors have placed a period after "give" in line 11. This practice, which is not universal, changes the "that" in line 12 from an abbreviated "so that" to a demonstrative; the advantage of this procedure is that it renders comprehensible the "due" in line 12.

T. W. Baldwin argued on thematic grounds that this poem should immediately follow Sonnet 20 and Sonnet 22. This argument, like others to rearrange the sonnets, has not received wide acceptance.


  1. ^ Larsen, Kenneth J.. "Sonnet 31". Essays on Shakespeare's Sonnets. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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]