Sonnet 44

If the dull substance of my flesh were thought,
Injurious distance should not stop my way;
For then despite of space I would be brought,
From limits far remote where thou dost stay.
No matter then although my foot did stand
Upon the farthest earth removed from thee;
For nimble thought can jump both sea and land
As soon as think the place where he would be.
But ah! thought kills me that I am not thought,
To leap large lengths of miles when thou art gone,
But that so much of earth and water wrought
I must attend time’s leisure with my moan,
Receiving nought by elements so slow
But heavy tears, badges of either’s woe.

The Sonnet manifests the unity of will and intellect, done most clearly in line nine when mind and will are punned together in the word “thought” “but ah! thought (my own self awareness) kills me that I am not thought, to leap… (go out of oneself to another, or will)”.

The poem manifests the unity of thought and intellect by manifesting the immateriality of both. Thought is opposed to “the dull substance” made of elements. Shakespeare’s whole lament is that his body weighs down another more intimate part of himself that is not limited by distance or space, and such a limitation to distance and space is either the definition of body, or something that follows soon upon it.  

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1 Comment

  1. Stouff said,

    August 15, 2007 at 6:15 am

    Poor guy, probably didn’t have an active membership at the gym.

    As a Shakespeare fan, I would like to pass a long a book that I came across at the local library. Shakespeare’s Philosophy, by Colin McGinn. He interprets six plays. I have read three of them so far. They made my mind go into overdrive. Othello is in there, so that may pique your interest further.

    Interpreting fiction is not one of my strong points, and sometimes I must rely on the skills of others. So far, the outcome has been that I appreciate Shakespeare even more and the relationship between Montaigne and the Bard is further clarified.

    Since I drank a lot of coffee yesterday, I couldn’t sleep well. So, I thought. One thought that is recurring is whether or not the definition of man as rational animal is sufficient of best. There is a strong inclination towards man as loving animal. What do you think of that? Sounds kind of hippie, but…


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