«How can I then return in happy plight,
That am debarr’d the benefit of rest?».
Images of absence, continued from the previous sonnet, show the poet at the point of emotional exhaustion and frustration due to his sleepless nights spent thinking about the young man.
How can I then return in happy plight,
However, even though faced with the young man’s disinterest, the poet still refuses to break away from the youth. He even continues to praise the youth, telling day and night how fortunate they are to be graced by the youth’s presence. The poet’s continued devotion to the young man is not so startling as it might first appear: Writing sonnets of absolute devotion in Elizabethan times was a duty to the source of the poet’s inspiration.
Sonnet 28, therefore, offers the poet’s verse as a duty-offering, a supreme expression of selfless love for an undeserving friend. The opposition between day and night dominates the sonnet. For the poet, neither time alleviates his suffering: “And each, though enemies to either’s reign, / Do in consent shake hands to torture me” with hard work and no sleep. Trying to please the oppressive day and night, the poet tells day that the youth shines brightly even when the sun is hidden; to night, the poet compares the youth to the brightest stars, except that the youth shines even when the stars do not. However, day and night still torment the poet and make “grief’s strength seem stronger.” The poet sinks even further into despair.
English audio from YouTube Channel Socratica
Summary from Cliffsnotes.com