Sonnets 61-80

Shakespeare s sonnets 61-80

Shakespeare’s Sonnets are some of the most fascinating and influential poems written in English. First published in 1609, in a small quarto edition (roughly the size of a modern paperback), almost nothing is known about the poems’ composition. But the Sonnets have been read, recited, reprinted and written about ever since their first appearance.

»»» Sonnets introduction
»»» Sonnets complete list

Sonnets 61-80

Sonnets 61-80
  • Sonnet 61
    Sonnet 61

    «Is it thy will thy image should keep open My heavy eyelids to the weary night?».  The youth continues to present a variety of phantom images to the poet. Trying to settle on one authentic image, the poet cannot sleep because of the emotional turmoil…

  • Sonnet 62
    Sonnet 62

    «Sin of self-love possesseth all mine eye And all my soul and all my every part».  The poet thinks of himself as a young man and condemns his own narcissistic vanity. Unfortunately, although he can intellectualize narcissism as an unworthy attribute, nonetheless “It is so…

  • Sonnet 63
    Sonnet 63

    «Against my love shall be, as I am now, With Time’s injurious hand crush’d and o’er-worn».  References to the young man’s future are signs of the poet’s fear that love cannot defend against time. Sonnet 63 Read and listen Against my love shall be, as…

  • Sonnet 64
    Sonnet 64

    «When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced The rich proud cost of outworn buried age».  In Sonnet 64, the poet is portrayed as a historian, philosopher, and antiquarian who dreams of time’s relentless destruction of ancient glories. Monuments that reflect the noblest ideas…

  • Sonnet 65
    Sonnet 65

    «Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, But sad mortality o’er-sways their power».  Continuing many of the images from Sonnet 64, the poet concludes that nothing withstands time’s ravages. Sonnet 65 Read and listen Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,…

  • Sonnet 66
    Sonnet 66

    «Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, As, to behold desert a beggar born».  Were it not that dying would take him from his love, the angry speaker of this litany of life’s disappointments would die. Sonnet 66 Read and listen Tired with…

  • Sonnet 67
    Sonnet 67

    «Ah! wherefore with infection should he live, And with his presence grace impiety».  Sonnet 67 continues the thought of the previous sonnet, and develops a new argument in its reflection upon the poet’s contemporary age. Sonnet 67 Read and listen Ah! wherefore with infection should…

  • Sonnet 68
    Sonnet 68

    «Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn, When beauty lived and died as flowers do now».  Because the young man epitomizes ancient standards of true beauty, he does not need cosmetics or a wig made from “the golden tresses of the dead.” Sonnet…

  • Sonnet 69
    Sonnet 69

    «Those parts of thee that the world’s eye doth view Want nothing that the thought of hearts can mend».  Although the youth’s enemies praise his appearance, they all but slander him in their private meetings. Sonnet 69 Read and listen Those parts of thee that…

  • Sonnet 70
    Sonnet 70

    «That thou art blamed shall not be thy defect, For slander’s mark was ever yet the fair».  The poet is unable to maintain his disapproval of the young man, but he forgives without forgetting. The youth can blame only himself for the slanderous rumors about…

  • Sonnet 71
    Sonnet 71

    «No longer mourn for me when I am dead Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell».  In this and the next three sonnets, the poet’s mood becomes increasingly morbid. Here he anticipates his own death: “No longer mourn for me when I am dead…

  • Sonnet 72
    Sonnet 72

    «O, lest the world should task you to recite What merit lived in me, that you should love».  Sonnet 72 echoes the mood of Sonnet 71, and the poet tells the youth not to praise his verse after the poet’s death, as his praise could…

  • Sonnet 73
    Sonnet 73

    «That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang».  The poet indicates his feeling that he has not long to live through the imagery of the wintry bough, twilight’s afterglow, and a fire’s dying embers. All…

  • Sonnet 74
    Sonnet 74

    «But be contented: when that fell arrest Without all bail shall carry me away».  The poet continues his obsessive concern with his own death. Although he emphasizes his own inadequacy as a person, he boldly asserts the greatness of his verse: “My life hath in…

  • Sonnet 75
    Sonnet 75

    «So are you to my thoughts as food to life, Or as sweet-season’d showers are to the ground».  The poet is torn by contrary feelings that he cannot reconcile. His relationship with the youth alternates between pleasure — “Sometime all full with feasting on your…

  • Sonnet 76
    Sonnet 76

    «Why is my verse so barren of new pride, So far from variation or quick change?».  Complaining that his verse is sadly limited, the poet acknowledges that his praise of the young man allows no new form of argument. As a traditionalist, the poet rejects…

  • Sonnet 77
    Sonnet 77

    «Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear, Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste».  The youth’s aging face will be reflected in a mirror, and the passage of time will be reflected on his watch, clashing with the youth’s eternally young thoughts. Sonnet…

  • Sonnet 78
    Sonnet 78

    «So oft have I invoked thee for my Muse And found such fair assistance in my verse».  The poet’s success in gaining entry into the youth’s good graces inspires imitators: “As every alien pen hath got my use, / And under thee their poesy disperse.”…

  • Sonnet 79
    Sonnet 79

    «Whilst I alone did call upon thy aid, My verse alone had all thy gentle grace».  Sonnet 79 presents the first specific reference to a rival poet who vies for the young man’s affections. Without losing his sense of moral superiority, the poet bitterly resents…

  • Sonnet 80
    Sonnet 80

    «O, how I faint when I of you do write, Knowing a better spirit doth use your name».  The poet acknowledges that the rival poet displaces him in the youth’s favor. Feeling discouraged by the superiority of the “better spirit” of the rival poet, whom…

»»» Sonnets introduction

They have inspired many creative works, including music and dance pieces as well as other poems. And they continue to intrigue those of us who watch, read and study Shakespeare’s plays, for the insight they might offer into the mind of the man who wrote our most beloved dramatic works. This piece will explore why the Sonnets are so important to the history of English poetry and why they continue to be enjoyed – and imitated – today.

Part of the reason Shakespeare’s Sonnets speak to us so directly is that they are written with their own afterlife in mind. These are poems designed to commemorate the poet’s beloved for all eternity. In the famous lines of Sonnet 18 Shakespeare suggests that his poem confers immortality: ‘So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee’ (ll. 11.13–14). Long after his lover’s death, Shakespeare’s poem will continue to keep his lover alive. The Sonnets look to their own future, imagining the readers who will come to them hundreds of years after Shakespeare’s death. We continue to read the poems partly because of this sense of contact with Shakespeare as he reaches out into the future, a sense of presence as well as a reminder of his absence (a theme that will return later in this piece).

But we need to be careful about reading the poems autobiographically, or seeing them as a key to the themes of love, jealousy, anger and lust that pervade Shakespeare’s plays. The poetic persona who speaks through the sequence is not Shakespeare himself. While many readers of the poems have traced a love triangle between the ‘poet’ and two figures often called the ‘Young Man’ and the ‘Dark Lady’, the Sonnets themselves resist straightforward narrative. The poems seem to play with the reader in this regard, tempting us with hints of the kind of love story that underpinned other popular poetic sequences of the time, or the plot of a Shakespearean comedy. At the same time, the poems constantly frustrate our attempts to trace the exact moment at which the poet loses – or gains – the affection of his lovers, or to map the precise relationship between the two enigmatic figures that so preoccupy his attentions. It is also significant that one of the lovers is male; Shakespeare’s Sonnets do not give us a predictably heterosexual romance but rather a complex and intricate exploration of gender and sexuality that encourages ambiguity rather than resolution.


1 – 20 21 – 40 41 – 60
61 – 80 81 – 100 101 – 120
121 – 140
141 – 154

»»» Sonnets introduction
»»» Sonnets complete list