Classic literature is still widely recognized today in academic spheres especially in literature. Most of the artists in Europe during the renaissance period expressed their feelings and attitudes toward what was happening in their society by writing articles, narratives, poems, and plays.
William Shakespeare is one of those scholars whose works received a wider audience and he also gained a lot of respect and popularity. He was popularly known as the “Bard of Avon” and he wrote poems, plays, sonnets and narratives.
From 1589 to 1613 he produced a lot of literature works and most of his plays were touching on historical events of the time and some were largely based on comedy. He did most of his performances in large theaters in London which attracted kings and other prominent people in the society. His works were translated into many languages and his plays have been acted in very many occasions.
A sonnet can be defined as “a fourteen-line lyric poem, traditionally written in iambic pentameter–that is, in lines ten syllables long, with accents falling on every second syllable, as in: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’”.
A sonnet is mainly concerned with identification of an issue, analysis of the issue and it finally gives a solution to the dilemma. During the ancient time in England, Sonnets were commonly used as a means of expressing love and romance.
Shakespeare’s sonnet 130 is about love and it is meant for a public audience. In the first line a simile has been used. “My mistress eyes are nothing like the son,” in this case he tries to indicate that the eyes of her loved one are not good compared to the bright rays from the son.
In many poems talking about love, the poets always give nice descriptions of the people they like but this is not the case in this poem. Shakespeare instead has given a vivid description of her lover’s physical appearance which does not seem to be good from the description.
In most of the lines he has continuously given negative descriptions of the woman, but close to the end he changed his manner of description. For example, towards the end of the poem, he commented that he still loved her so much despite her bad physical appearance. He used a regular rhyme scheme (ababcdcdefefgg) in the sonnet.
The structure of the sonnet is accurate but the message is quite unusual. Apart from these, he also used euphony in most parts of the poem in order to develop humor and sarcastic tone. The use of long vowels was done with the purpose of making the sonnet easy to read. It is very interesting to read a poem like this one because the content gives a true reflection of what is being described unlike most poems whose contents are often exaggerated using hyperbole.
The “Dream of the Rood” was an early Christian poem and it can be classified under dream poetry. The main author of this poem still remains unknown. Nonetheless, many scholars who have tried to trace its background have closely linked it to Caedmon and Cynewulf. It has been agued by critics of this poem that the person who wrote it had some information about warfare imagery.
Others also believe that the poet had a religious background. The setting of this poem is the personas dream. In his dream, the persona talks about the cross which was used to crucify Jesus. The poem is broken down into three segments.
In the first part, the persona dreams of the cross, where he first sees the cross covered with gems. He knows how sinful he is compared to the lord. The manner in which Jesus was crucified is depicted in part two of this poem, and it is described from the point of view of the cross. In the last part of this poem, the persona gives a reflection of his vision.
This poem can serve as one of the literary documents that can be used to give an interpretation of the competing cultures of the Anglo Saxon Christians. The poem also explores the adoption of Christian values by many people from the Anglo Saxon community.
This poem has alliterative verses which is a common feature of old English poems. The poet employed symbolism as one of the mechanisms of developing his themes. For example, the cross serves as a symbol of many things highlighted in the poem. For instance, it symbolizes Christ redemption.
“One of the main themes of the poem is that of the cross feeling at the same time both shame and glory—shame that men could murder Christ as they were and that it was the instrument of that murder, and glory that it had been chosen to bear Christ in his journey toward bestowing absolution upon all mankind”.
The above discussion reveals the nature of the ancient poems, which were characterized by various stylistic devices. Most of these poems explored the contemporary issues that happened in the society. Therefore, these poems can be used as a tool for learning the ancient societies and the issues that affected their lifestyles.
Ricks, Christopher and Colin Burrow. Metaphysical poetry (penguin classics. New York: Penguin Classics, 2006.
Shakespeare, William. Shakespeare sonnets. New York: Yale University Press, 2000.
Swanton, Moses. The Dream of the Rood. New York: University of Exeter Press, 2006.