We are diving back into William Shakespeare’s sonnets for this week’s Featured Poem, a story of springtime beauty and separated companions.
Sonnet 98 is one of the many sonnets which Shakespeare addressed to the ‘Fair Youth’, an important lover or friend. The identity of the man who inspired Shakespeare so, as well as the nature of the relationship between the two, has long been discussed and debated, with the mystery ultimately remaining unsolved.
Dealing with the theme of separation, in Sonnet 98, Shakespeare laments the lack of joy to be found in the beauty of spring, as it pales in comparison to the beauty of his absent companion.
From you have I been absent in the spring,
When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,
That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.
Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell
Of different flowers in odour and in hue,
Could make me any summer’s story tell,
Or from their proud lap pluck them where 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.