ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Shakespeare Sonnet 66: "Tir’d with all these, for restful death I cry"

Updated on May 6, 2018
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The real "Shakespeare"
The real "Shakespeare" | Source

Introduction and Text of Sonnet 66

The clever speaker in Shakespeare sonnet 66 offers a wish that turns out to be quite an exaggeration in service of a main point. As the speaker offers a lucid and valid condemnation of some of the insane thoughts and movements that lead to mediocrity and actual devaluation of honored traditions, he dramatizes again his own talent for creating little dramas in his sonnets. The speaker's desire to leave all Weltschmerz behind is, however, alleviated by the very act of writing about that world sorrow.

Sonnet 66

Tir’d with all these, for restful death I cry
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honour shamefully misplac’d,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly—doctor-like—controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:
Tir’d with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

Reading of Sonnet 66

Commentary

In sonnet 66, the speaker exaggerates that he has grown weary with all the negativity that exists on the earthly plane—so much so that he wishes for "restful death."

First Quatrain: A Brash Claim

Tir’d with all these, for restful death I cry
As to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm’d in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,

In the first quatrain of sonnet 66, the speaker announces his brash claim that he "cries" for "restful death." He makes that cry because he is "[t]ir’d with all these" things and issues. The speaker employs the remaining lines of the poem to catalogue those issues that he has become tired of, and he also wishes to show why these things and issues have fatigued his heart and mind.

First, the speaker complains that people who appear deserving of a good life are often born into and saddled with abject poverty. Having observed this situation and attempting to understand the implications arising therefrom have rendered the speaker tired and weary. The speaker then announces the next installment from his catalogue which contrasts with the initial offering: those who appear less deserving are many times "trimm’d in jollity," as those with better claim go without.

The speaker next complains that those who have "purest faith" often remain "unhappily forsworn." The speaker dramatically emphasizes the contrasts that he has observed which exist on the physical plane, unveiling his disapproval of one while increasing the worth of its opposite.

Second Quatrain: Catalogue of Grievances

And gilded honour shamefully misplac’d,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced,
And strength by limping sway disabled,

In the second quatrain, the speaker continues his list-catalogue of grievances: honor is mislaid; virtue is cheapened; perfection fails to reach its goal; strength remains "disabled" as it goes "limping sway." The speaker is reporting generalities that remain accurate for all generations down through history. There is ever a current besmirching of honor that is "shamefully misplac’d."

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the honor of the Nobel Peace Prize has ben devalued substantially as leftist political hacks in committees have down-graded that prize by bestowing it on terrorists like Yasser Arafat and political hacks like Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama. The same has happened regarding the Nobel Prize in Literature. By awarding the musical plagiarist, Bob Dylan, with that prize, the committee tarnished its value for all future receivers. In general, the Nobel Prize has been debased because the committee's left-leaning politics. It bestowed the Peace Prize on the vacuous Barack Obama at the beginning of his presidency before he had had a chance to do anything to qualify for it.

Even that Nobel committee now realizes the error of having such a prestigious prize go to the fledgling president. Geil Lundestad, director of the Nobel Institute has admitted,

"Even many of Obama’s supporters thought that the prize was a mistake," Mr. Lundestad said. In the book, [Lundestad] expressed regret that the decision had been based in a hope for the future rather than recognition of past accomplishments, and that their expectations for Mr. Obama were not fulfilled.

The speaker in sonnet 66 seems to have been especially prescient in this matter.

Third Quatrain: Galled to Weltschmerz

And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly—doctor-like—controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall’d simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill:

The speaker pressed on with his list of observations of things that gall him to Weltschmerz: art is prostituted by disingenuous movements; folly is perpetuated by "doctor-like" robotic clowns; "simple truth" is rendered simplistic by being falsely labeled "simplicity"; and good is dispossessed by bad.

Contemporary examples of "art made tongue-tied by authority" are the movements in modernist and postmodernist art that misappropriate the stage once valiantly held by craftsmanship and the search for truth, replacing all former excellence and genuine achievement with self-serving mumbo jumbo.

(Examples of postmodernist gibberish posing as art: the folly of Robert Bly, the drivel of Charles Bernstein, and the gloom-filled posturing of Adrienne Rich.)

The Couplet: Weary of Hypocrisy

Tir’d with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.

The speaker again repeats that he is weary of all the hypocrisy that results from disingenuousness and duplicity. He again shares the thought that he would prefer to die and be rid of this world of woe and lies—except for one very significant reason: he would not relish leaving behind his love.

This speaker’s most valued possession remains the divinely inspired gift of his brilliant talent. He employs this exalted talent to exalt his "love." In the final analysis, this creative and deep-thinking speaker has simply exaggerated his desire for death in order to serve to highlight his little drama displaying worldly contrasts.

A Brief Overview: The 154-Sonnet Sequence

Scholars and critics of Elizabethan literature have determined that the sequence of 154 Shakespeare sonnets may be classified into three thematic categories: (1) Marriage Sonnets 1-17; (2) Muse Sonnets 18-126, traditionally identified as the "Fair Youth"; and (3) Dark Lady Sonnets 127-154.

Marriage Sonnets 1-17

The speaker in the Shakespeare “Marriage Sonnets” pursues a single goal: to persuade a young man to marry and produce beautiful offspring. It is likely that the young man is Henry Wriothesley, the third earl of Southampton, who is being urged to marry Elizabeth de Vere, the oldest daughter of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

Many scholars and critics now argue persuasively that Edward de Vere is the writer of the works attributed to the nom de plume, "William Shakespeare." For example, Walt Whitman, one of America's greatest poets has opined:

Conceiv'd out of the fullest heat and pulse of European feudalism — personifying in unparalleled ways the medieval aristocracy, its towering spirit of ruthless and gigantic caste, with its own peculiar air and arrogance (no mere imitation) — only one of the "wolfish earls" so plenteous in the plays themselves, or some born descendant and knower, might seem to be the true author of those amazing works — works in some respects greater than anything else in recorded literature.

For more information regarding Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as the real writer of the Shakespearean canon, please visit The De Vere Society, an organization that is "dedicated to the proposition that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford."

Muse Sonnets 18-126 (Traditionally classified as "Fair Youth")

The speaker in this section of sonnets is exploring his talent, his dedication to his art, and his own soul power. In some sonnets, the speaker addresses his muse, in others he addresses himself, and in others he even addresses the poem itself.

Even though many scholars and critics have traditionally categorized this group of sonnets as the "Fair Youth Sonnets," there is no "fair youth," that is "young man," in these sonnets. There is no person at all in this sequence, with exception of the two problematic sonnets, 108 and 126.

Dark Lady Sonnets 127-154

The final sequence targets an adulterous romance with a woman of questionable character; the term “dark” likely modifies the woman’s character flaws, not her skin tone.

Three Problematic Sonnets: 108, 126, 99

Sonnet 108 and 126 present a problem in categorization. While most of the sonnets in the "Muse Sonnets" do focus on the poet's musings about his writing talent and do not focus on a human being, sonnets 108 and 126 are speaking to a young man, respectively calling him "sweet boy" and "lovely boy." Sonnet 126 presents an additional problem: it is not technically a "sonnet," because it features six couplets, instead of the traditional three quatrains and a couplet.

The themes of sonnets 108 and 126 would better categorize with the "Marriage Sonnets" because they do address a "young man." It is likely that sonnets 108 and 126 are at least partially responsible for the erroneous labeling of the "Muse Sonnets" as the "Fair Youth Sonnets" along with the claim that those sonnets address a young man.

While most scholars and critics tend to categorize the sonnets into the three-themed schema, others combine the "Marriage Sonnets" and the "Fair Youth Sonnets" into one group of "Young Man Sonnets." This categorization strategy would be accurate if the "Muse Sonnets" actually addressed a young man, as only the "Marriage Sonnets" do.

Sonnet 99 might be considered somewhat problematic: it features 15 lines instead of the traditional 14 sonnet lines. It accomplishes this task by converting the opening quatrain into a cinquain, with an altered rime scheme from ABAB to ABABA. The rest of the sonnet follows the regular rime, rhythm, and function of the traditional sonnet.

The Two Final Sonnets

Sonnets 153 and 154 are also somewhat problematic. They are classified with the Dark Lady Sonnets, but they function quite differently from the bulk of those poems.

Sonnet 154 is a paraphrase of Sonnet 153; thus, they carry the same message. The two final sonnets dramatize the same theme, a complaint of unrequited love, while outfitting the complaint with the dress of mythological allusion. The speaker employs the services of the Roman god Cupid and the goddess Diana. The speaker thus achieves a distance from his feelings, which he, no doubt, hopes will finally liberate him from the clutches of his lust/love and bring him equanimity of mind and heart.

In the bulk of the "dark lady" sonnets, the speaker has a been addressing the woman directly, or making it clear that what he is saying is intended for her ears. In the final two sonnets, the speaker is not directly addressing the mistress. He does mention her, but he is speaking now about her instead of directly to her. He is now making it quite clear that he is withdrawing from the drama with her.

Readers may sense that he has grown battle-weary from his struggle for the woman’s respect and affection, and now he has finally decided to make a philosophical drama that heralds the end of that disastrous relationship, announcing essentially, "I’m through."

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes

Comments

Submit a Comment

No comments yet.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)