English 4

What is the theme to Spenser's Sonnet 35? I have no clue!

Please help asap!


SONNET XXXV.

MY hungry eyes through greedy covetise,
still to behold the object of their pain:
with no contentment can themselues suffice,
but having, pine, and having not, complain.
For lacking it they cannot life sustain,
and having it they gaze on it the more:
in their amazement like Narcissus vain
whose eyes him starv'd: so plenty makes me poor.
Yet are mine eyes so filled with the store
of that fair sight, that nothing else they brook,
but loathe the things which they did like before,
and can no more endure on them to look.
All this world's glory seemeth vain to me,
and all their shows but shadows saving she.



To get the clue to a sonnet's theme, always look at the last two lines. Therein lies what the poet was really saying. The poor fellow is hopelessly in love.
Another clue is to be sure to look up all allusions, example Narcissus
Last clue, check vocabulary that you may know understand its use in this context. example "brook". In this context it is NOT a small stream.

Make sure you understand how sonnets are put together:
~~8 lines to set up the main thoughts
~~then a shift in the last 6 lines -- sometimes setting up an opposite view

I'll add commentary below in italics:

--------------------
SONNET XXXV.

MY hungry eyes through greedy covetise,
still to behold the object of their pain:
he cannot help but look at the object of his love, who has no doubt rejected him
with no contentment can themselves suffice,
but having, pine, and having not, complain.
it doesn't do any good to look on his love; if he sees her, he pines for her; if he doesn't see her, he complains
For lacking it they cannot life sustain,
and having it they gaze on it the more:
in their amazement like Narcissus vain
whose eyes him starv'd: so plenty makes me poor.
if he doesn't see her, he feels he cannot live; if he sees her, he wants more and more of her; he compares himself to Narcissus
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(mythology) and concludes that the more he sees of his love, the less he has and the more he wants.


Yet are mine eyes so filled with the store
of that fair sight, that nothing else they brook,
notice the contrasting word "Yet" to start the last 6 lines; his eyes are so filled with the sight of her that he can't stand to look at anyone or anything else
but loathe the things which they did like before,
and can no more endure on them to look.
he hates the things he liked before and cannot bear to look at them
All this world's glory seemeth vain to me,
and all their shows but shadows saving she.
So ... tell me what you think of these last two lines?

??

Everything else to him looks bad, all he wants to look at is the girl.

Pretty close. Try rephrasing the last two lines, line-by-line. And don't forget GuruBlue's instruction regarding using a dictionary for words that are not crystal clear to you. Remember -- this is 400+ year old English.

=)

right, and she's gone and he's miserable

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asked by Summer
  1. All the world means nothing to him, but all its distractions keep he hidden.

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    posted by Junia

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