Sonnet 76

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sonnet 76

Why is my verse so barren of new pride,
So far from variation or quick change?
Why with the time do I not glance aside
To new-found methods, and to compounds strange?
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Showing their birth, and where they did proceed?
O know, sweet love, I always write of you,
And you and love are still my argument;
So all my best is dressing old words new,
Spending again what is already spent:
For as the sun is daily new and old,
So is my love still telling what is told.

–William Shakespeare

Sonnet 76 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It's a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man.

Synopsis[edit]

This poem repeats the theme of Sonnet 38, which examines the issue of the poet's obsession with the Youth as the repeated and sole theme of his poetry.

The poet expresses frustration with his poetry; that it is repetitive and he can't find inspiration. He ponders finding inspiration from other artists. He ends the poem justifying the endless, uninspired, repetition of his love poetry to the endless repetition to the rising and setting sun.

Controversial Interpretation[edit]

"Noted weed" is usually glossed to mean familiar clothing. The Norton Shakespeare annotates "and keep invention in a noted weed" thus: And keep literary creativity in such familiar clothing. This conforms with the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of Weed, sb2: 1: an article of apparel; a garment, and is consistent with the theme of mending, re-using, etc. ("all my best is dressing old words new").[1]

Although no academics concur, it has been suggested that Shakespeare is referring to the influence of drugs in poetry creation.,[2] with the subject phrase "Noted weed" referring to the use of cannabis, which was common in England at the time.[3] In this interpretation, "Compounds strange" is taken to be a reference to strange chemicals (i.e. drugs), instead of a use of inverted construction, a common poetical device common to Shakespeare. One could argue the poet is thinking he could use drugs to be inspired. He then states he decides not to use such inspiration. (The poet does not "glance aside". Also, he decides to keep the inspirational in the "noted weed" rather than use it.)[citation needed]

The colloquialism "weed" not used in reference to the drug cannabis in the USA until the 1920s.[4] However, the term could have been used as a reference to the commonplace plant, which was mass-produced for fiber.

Interpretations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Norton Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Greenblatt. NY: Norton, 1997.
  2. ^ CNN Online
  3. ^ Harvard Magazine Sep-Oct 2001.
  4. ^ "Dictionary.com". Retrieved 30 September 2012.