My Thoughts are Haunting Me

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            I'm sure we all have experienced the power of negative thoughts. Think one negative thought and suddenly a thousand more come pouring in. That seems to be what happened when Shakespeare wrote this poem, or perhaps Shakespeare was attempting to bring out this curse of thought intentionally. The sonnet begins with a harmless reflection on thought:

 "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought,

I summon up remembrance of things past (1-2).

Then the speaker seems to think about dreams or ambitions that he/she never accomplished, thus, beginning the flow of negative thought:

 "I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,

And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste" (3-4).

Now pessimism strikes. Rather than remembering all of his/her successes in life, the speaker enters a world of self pity. We can only imagine the speakers thoughts of "I am such a failure", "Now it is too late for me to accomplish anything great", "I am worthless". This progresses to the speaker remembering all the hardships he/she has faced. Now the speaker is drowning in his/her own flow of negativity, suffocating in overwhelming memories of grief:

"For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,

And weep afresh love's long since cancelled woe,

And moan th' expense of many a vanished sight" (6-8).

            It takes strength to stop the flow of negativity. Some may allow themselves to cry and find that they feel better afterwards. Others may think happy thoughts, thus putting themselves on a new positive frequency of thought. Unfortunately others would rather stay on the train of self pity, choosing to remain depressed. The speaker of this poem seems to break the cycle of negative thought in the last two lines of the poem. These last two lines are set apart from the rest by being slightly indented in order to demonstrate the transition of thought from negative to positive:

     "But if the while I think on thee (dear friend)

     "All losses are restored, and sorrows end" (13-14).

 The speaker breaks the cycle by thinking about the happy times he/she spent with deceased loved ones rather than the actual death. Rather than continuing to wallop in self pity, the speaker becomes grateful for the happy times he/she had spent with certain loved ones.


Carissa Altizer said:

I think this is a really great close reading of Sonnet 30. It's nice to read two happy poems that end positively in one day! It seems like we get so used to authors expressing their grief (Sylvia Plath!) that we forget that poetry can persuade a person to think of happier times.

Brooke Kuehn said:

Thanks Carissa! I agree, it was definitly nice to read a more positive poem even though i did love sylvia plath. ALthough, i guess this poem was quite negative until the last few lines, but at least it allowed us to walk away with a more hopeful attitude rather than a negative one.

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