Sonnet 8

Shakespeare. Sonnet 1

«Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy».

In this sonnet, the poet compares a single musical note to the young man and a chord made up of many notes to a family. The marriage of sounds in a chord symbolizes the union of father, mother, and child.

Sonnet 8
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Music to hear, why hear’st thou music sadly?
Sweets with sweets war not, joy delights in joy.
Why lovest thou that which thou receivest not gladly,
Or else receivest with pleasure thine annoy?
If the true concord of well-tuned sounds,
By unions married, do offend thine ear,
They do but sweetly chide thee, who confounds
In singleness the parts that thou shouldst bear.
Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering,
Resembling sire and child and happy mother
Who all in one, one pleasing note do sing:
Whose speechless song, being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee: ‘thou single wilt prove none.’

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The first twelve lines elaborate a comparison between music and the youth, who, should he marry and have a child, would then be the very embodiment of harmony. But music, “the true concord of well-tuned sounds,” scolds him because he remains single — a single note, not a chord. By refusing to marry, the youth destroys the harmony that he should make as part of an ensemble, a family. Just as the strings of a lute when struck simultaneously produce one sound, which is actually made up of many sounds, so the family is a unit comprised of single members who function best — and most naturally — when working in tandem with one another.

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English audio from YouTube Channel Socratica

Summary from

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