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William Shakespeare
The Sonnets




Sonnet CXVI (116)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error, and upon me prov'd,
   I never writ, nor no man ever lov'd.




Sonnet CXVI (116)
(With Notes)

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove: (1)
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken. (2)
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. (3)
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.(4)
   If this be error, and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved. (5)



NOTES

(1) Love is not really love if it ceases when it finds a change in someone or something.

(2) True love will never change. It is not fair weather. It will not falter in bad times (bad weather/storms)

(3) "wand'ring bark" means wandering or lost ship. Love is its guiding star. The star's worth is unknown, but how high up or far away it is can be seen/measured by the eye or by instruments.

(4) Love does not change with time, even though time devours beauty with its sickle (agricultural tool with a curved blade). True love lasts forever.

(5) If this is proved to be wrong i.e. that love is changeable and inconstant then he (Shakespeare) never wrote and no man ever loved. In other words, Shakespeare is confident that he can never be proved wrong!



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