When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste;
Then can I drown an eye (unused to flow)
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan th’expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before;
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All loses are restored, and sorrows end.
I’ve been thinking about this sonnet for the last week or so for a number of reasons. I love the phrase “sweet silent thought.” And while the speaker is brooding for much of the poem, to me this phrase implies time to contemplate new ideas. Having quiet, unhurried time to think is a rarity these days. Just as by the end of the poem, the speaker has achieved peace thinking of his friend, taking this time to think can bring us peace. (Both literal and figurative!)
This poem has also been on my mind because of a story I’ve been working on. The main character is grieving over the loss of her mother, and by the end of the story I want her to come to the kind of reconciliation with her grief that this speaker has. Whether or not I can accomplish that for her is another story, but I’m going to try.
In the meantime, I think I’ll listen to Kenneth Branagh read this lovely poem once more:
Be sure to visit Keri at Keri Recommends for her inaugural Poetry Friday Round Up.
6 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Sonnet 30 by William Shakespeare”
Lovely, and the perfect companion for afternoon tea on this rainy afternoon. Thank you for sharing, and best of luck moving your character gently to a place of peace.
Oh, I love when Shakespeare is part of the Poetry Friday. There is a series of one act plays that used the sonnets as plots (found at https://www.theatrefolk.com/products/will-and-whimsy-sixteen-dramatically-illustrated-sonnets-of-shakespeare) I think Sonnet 30 was in this as well. No wonder you think this sonnet is worthy of a story.
Love this sonnet!! Thanks!
I have always loved this sonnet. Even more so now that I am old enough to have experienced it fully myself. And that line:I summon up remembrance of things past…which I seem to do so much more of these days…
When in doubt, turn to the master–thank you, Mr. Shakespeare! Wishing you the best with your story.
I can really relate to the snowballing of woes. They seem to seep one into another. Miraculous how quickly they come to an end with a friend.