Sonnet 98

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Sonnet 98

From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April dress'd in all his trim
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing
That heavy Saturn laugh'd and leap'd with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odor and in hue
Could make me any summer's story tell.
Or from their proud lap pluck them while they grew;
Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,
Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;
They were but sweet, but figures of delight;
Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.
Yet seem'd it winter still, and, you away,
As with your shadow I with these did play.

–William Shakespeare

Sonnet 98 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 persona expresses his love towards a young man. It is the second of a group of three sonnets (97 to 99) to treat a separation of the speaker from his beloved.

Paraphrase[edit]

We were apart during the spring, when everything feels young, even aged Saturn; however, none of the beauty I saw around me could bring me into sympathy with my surroundings. I could not admire the lily or the rose, since these were to me only images of you. Thus, it still seemed winter to me, since you were away.

Source and analysis[edit]

As Sidney Lee notes, this poem, like most Renaissance sonnets on similar themes, derives ultimately from Petrarch's sonnet 42; he cites examples from Surrey and Sidney. Edward Dowden notes a resemblance to Spenser's Amoretti 64. G. Wilson Knight connects the rose and lily of this poem to what he sees as a pattern of flower symbolism in the cycle.