Sonnet 29


This study guide will help you analyze the poem “Sonnet 29” by William Shakespeare. You can also find a summary of the poem, as well as ideas for interpreting it and putting it into perspective


"Sonnet 29" by William Shakespeare is a poem where the speaker starts off feeling very unhappy with his life. He thinks he's unlucky and alone, and nobody cares about him. He feels jealous of others who seem to be doing better than him, which makes him even more sad.

However, when the speaker thinks about the person he loves, he realizes how lucky he is to have someone who cares about him. This makes him feel much better and grateful for what he has.

Excerpt from the study guide: 

Inner structure

“Sonnet 29” by William Shakespeare follows a linear structure. The sonnet begins by describing the speaker’s depressed mood in the first stanza. Instead of introducing a new idea, the second stanza expands on the speaker’s unhappiness. It can also be noticed that the first stanza ends with a comma instead of a full stop or a semicolon, which highlights the fact that the second stanza is a continuation of the ideas expressed in the first stanza.

A volta comes at line 9. The “volta” (meaning “turn”) is a traditional feature of a sonnet; it is the point at which the poem’s argument, theme, or tone changes. In Shakespearean sonnets, the volta usually comes at line 12, before the final rhyming couplet. In “Sonnet 29”, it is the first line of the third stanza which introduces a change of tone. Here, the speaker’s mood suddenly changes when he remembers his beloved. The change in tone is also marked by the first word of the stanza, “Yet” (l. 9). The atypical placement of the volta for a Shakespearean sonnet highlights the way the speaker’s thoughts of his beloved suddenly interrupt his melancholy mood and shift his perspective. 

The final rhyming couplet concludes the poem by reaffirming the speaker’s sudden change of mood and his acknowledgement that love can uplift and transform him. 

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Sonnet 29

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