Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
II. The Consciousness of Being Loved by a Noble Nature a Triumph over All Troubles
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
WHEN, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,        5
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,—
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,        10
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
  For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
  That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 1
Note 1. By the “outcast state” to which he alludes in this sonnet, Shakespeare is supposed to mean the cause of trouble lamented in the one preceding. The modesty evinced in the wishes for the features and faculties of other persons has, in such a man especially, been deservedly admired; and the pause and the change of tone, full of triumphant emotion, at the words, “Haply I think on thee,” produce the utmost effect of masterliness in art from the perfection of the feeling. If the sonnet were set to music, the passage would suggest to a worthy composer a fine change in the key.
  The gladdening influences of a lover’s thoughts, the cheering light of a pure affection, were never depicted with truer feeling than in this sonnet. [back]

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