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Sonnet 1: Why
is this sonnet considered one of the "young man"
sonnets? What is a "young man" sonnet in Shakespeare's
collection? According to the speaker, what is this young
man like whom he addresses in terms of physical attributes?
In terms of personality? In line #1, what is it that he
claims we want from the most beautiful creatures? Why do
we want that, and why is it important given that "the
riper should by time decease" [or in some texts, decrease.?]
What is the yong man "contracted" to? When the
poet says the young man "makes a famine where abundance
lies," what is this famine? What is the paradox of
a "tender" churl? What are the various meanings
of "tender"? What is the paradox in "mak'st
waste by niggarding?" What is the poetic technique
Shakespeare uses when he writes words like feed'st
and mak'st? Why does he write them that way? What
is the world's due in the last line? What two things are
eating the world's due?
Sonnet 55: TBA
Sonnet 116: TBA
Sonnet 130: Describe the
speaker's "mistress" in this poem. What color
is her skin? Her breasts? Her cheeks? Her hair? What is
the texture of her hair like? What does her breath smell
like? What does her voice sound like? When his mistress
walks, where does she walk? How does this contrast (apparently)
with what other poets claim about their mistresses? To what
sort of supernatural being do they apparently contrast their
lovers? Why does the poet think his love is rare? How does
the poet play with conventional stereotypes of love poetry?
How is the speaker's lover an inversion or parody of the
petrarchan and medieval lover?
Sonnet 138: What problem
does the speaker of this sonnet have with his lover? What
is the paradox is line #2 of this sonnet? The word lies
in line two has two connotations--one regarding truth and
one regarding sexuality. Explain the way each reading would
affect the poem's meaning. How does a similar pun appear
in the next-to-last line of the poem? What is the best "habit"
(i.e. appearance) of love according to the speaker? In line
eight, who is at fault for covering up the truth, the speaker
or the speaker's lover (trick question!)?