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Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30 Summary & Analysis

Sonnet 30 is one of the 154 sonnets written by the greatest poet and playwright of all time, William Shakespeare. In this poem he writes about his state of mind that is the result of his affection for a young man.

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About the poet-

William Shakespeare is known as the greatest playwright and poet of all time in English literature. He is also known as the ‘Bard of Avon‘. His collection of works contain consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses. Shakespeare produced most of his known works between 1589 and 1613. He wrote a combination of comedies and tragedies throughout his lifetime.


In this sonnet, the narrator spends his time recollecting the memories spent in the older days of his life. He laments about all his unfulfilled desires and disappointments with sadness. Throughout the entire poem, the narrator expresses his sorrows with the use of metaphors.

The opening lines of the poem are quite dark and sad, where the poet uses words of grief to frame his miserable situation. The sonnet begins with the narrator visiting the sweet sessions of silent thoughts. Whenever the narrator goes back to the older days that are long gone now, he ends up remembering things from the past which aches his heart in the present. The narrator heavily sighs at his failure to accomplish the plans that he sought. All these woes now fills his life with sadness and ruins his present time. The speaker laments about different incidents that leads to pain in his current life. The central idea of the poem is grief and nostalgia. The poet tries to keep the central idea intact throughout the next lines of the poem.

In the second quatrain, the narrator wails that he sheds tears from eyes that are unused to flow. His eyes are accustomed to condone woes that they do not shed tears anymore. However, when he remembers the sweet memories spent with his friends who are now lost amidst death’s dateless nights, he cannot stop himself from sobbing in dejection. Hence, he says that even his inexperienced eyes shed tears in the memory of his precious dead friends. He weeps continuously for woes that were already healed long ago, and ruins his present life. He brings back the despair freshly from the past, and laments over them.

In the third quatrain, he keeps the theme intact and tells that he grieves over the same misery from the past again which cause him more pain everyday. He cries for the sad accounts that he had already grieved for in the past. Therefore, he has to repay for those already paid accounts of sadness again now. He brings back those reasons of sadness back again just as they were when freshly experienced. These lines are the continuation of the second quatrain , as they state similar ideas where the narrator laments about how he brings back his old grieves to spoil his present day.

The ending couplet of the sonnet suddenly shifts the consistency and offers a solution to the grief that he laments about in the entire poem. He offers a solution to the constant sadness by saying that his entire sadness vanishes when he thinks about his dearest friend, which is his fair Youth. He addresses the poem to his Fair Youth, and addresses it as his ‘dear friend’ in the conclusion. All his pain, and worries can dissolve if he stops whining about his past and instead relishes on what he has now, i.e. his dearest friend.

Sonnet 30 follows different themes that can be witnessed in many of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The major theme of this sonnet is Time. In the poem, time plays a significant role. The narrator reminisces his old days and bring them back to his present life. Therefore, ravages of time has an important role in causing woes to the narrator.

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