Tuesday, August 02, 2005

On the 29th Sonnet of Shakespeare

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,--and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.
Just like a lot of my more recent posts, this one is blatantly self-absorbed. I have always loved this particular sonnet of Shakespeare, not particularly because it is well made (though it is) but rather it reflects very well how I see my life. Oh, I am not proud that my life is so very well reflected in this verse; I am not. But, it used to comfort me that there was at least one poem, and a sonnet at that, which gives validity to what I felt was true in my life.

I am not proud to say that the first four couplets are so very true of me. Without any hubris I can say that people are usually surprised that I feel this way. They usually think that I have far too many talents and skills to ever feel that I don't fit anywhere and hate it (1st couplet), that I have once asked God to change my life so often, but felt that he didn't (2nd couplet), and that I am filled with bitter envy (and I still often am) at the financial well-being, the friends, and the talents and skills of other people have (especially those whom I think deserve it least) that I find it difficult to enjoy life (3rd & 4th couplets). No, I am not proud... and for a long time I have dissembled my mind to seem more happy and more content, all for the sake of others.

For the longest time, I had loved that poem... and hated it, since only the first four couplets were true for me. For a long time, I had no friend that would help me appreciate the me that I am now, rather than wish to be the other guy who had more money, or more friends, or more talent. That is, until Ærynn came into my life in 1995.

Oh, I still feel the first four couplets occassionally; yet it no longer haunts me as it did before, for at last my life is a complete Sonnet XXIX, where all I have to consider is that, if I had been somebody else, I would not have my wife now. It is complicated, but I am sure that if I had been somebody else, I would not have met such a wonderful friend and lover all in one. Of course, it seems like a case of the bitter grapes. But one only has to meet her who is my wife, and know that I am more fortunate than I deserve.

Maybe I do feel that the first four couplets should still be part of my life—having just the last three will not a sonnet make, and without the first four the last three are meaningless. I sometimes feel that I should have more money, more friends or more talents to be deserving of Ærynn... however I also know that even if I remain the friendless pauper with limited skills, she will still love me and stay with me.

And that is a poem in itself.