Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sonnet 104

To me, fair friend, you never can be old (Sonnet 104)
by William Shakespeare
To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv’d;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv’d:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

In this poem, Shakespeare uses his first memories of meeting his lover as inspiration for this poem. This sonnet makes it clear that the passion he feels for his male lover (possibly the Earl of Southhampton) is one of the most intense experiences of his life. His "fair friend" is the most important thing in his life. Their love is eternal, and his lover is eternal, both in beauty and spirit. It's also about his lover's eternal beauty that will never fade.
The three Aprils and three Junes suggest that the two were together for just three years. There was also a three years age difference between the 18 year old Shakespeare and the 21 year old Southampton at the time of Shakespeare's marriage to Anne Hathaway. Some critics of this method of interpreting the three years argue that the poet's use of 'three' years specifically may be simply a poetic convention (based on the significance of the number three in the Bible) and not a literal reference to the time he has spent with his lover. 
Whatever the case may be, Saturday, April 23, 2016 marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. Today, actually marks the 452 year of his baptism which is the closest evidence we have to knowing Shakespeare's date of birth.


Michael Dodd said...

Today, as it happens, is the birthday of someone who played an important role in my life at a crucial moment, almost by chance on his part when he, a stranger at the time, made a kind remark that I desperately needed to hear. We became very close but have not seen one another for a decade, living half the country apart. He was when I first eyed him, male-model attractive at age 40. In part because I never see him any more, he remains a fair friend who never can be old. (I was even then of an age at which 40 was not old.)

JiEL said...

Aging is for many gay men a real issue..

As I'm now 65yo, I can witness the kind of look young gays are having on me.
In lot of gay sites or meeting websites, ALL is for young men.

For me, I feel like a 20yo in my brain an heart. As I've spent 37years teaching to teenagers, I don't act as «an oldy» and I'm so open to all in life.

What is it about the gay community to «exclude» us from hope to find Love again?

Anonymous said...

I still remember wondering not very many years ago if I would ever be attracted to any but the younger crowd? It wasn't a passing thought. I couldn't imagine a relationship with anyone over 35. Now I don't feel that way at all. There's less attraction to the younger & more attraction to someone that seems more mature & relationship material. That's probably not fair to all but it is fair in the majority. Then & still now I keep realizing that younger people are somewhat & very attracted to me depending on their circumstance. Like JiEL said we have an age in our mind's eye. That's what makes it somewhat difficult. We either tend to try to connect with people who are alot younger or we're trying to connect with older & missing those who are trying to connect with us at the moment. Some people don't even think of our age at all. They only see now through their perceptions.