Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved. This sonnet consists on the defence of true love. The meaning of true love is described as an ever-fixed mark, something, a feeling that nothing can destroy. The first quatrain describes true love as unmoral and unchanging. True love can not be changed by its own nor allows itself to be changed even though the person who is loved changes. Shakespeare explains his thoughts on love. He defines true love as constant, an “ever-fixed mark”.
If love is altered and shaken, it was never true love, since he explains that true love will never be shaken as if it was something that we couldn’t reach and touch, if we are able to reach it, it was never high enough and therefore never true love. In the second quatrain true love is compared to a star which guides people as if people where lost and could be all guided to the same place by this unreachable star. This star is described as unnatural and indescribable, something unknown although we seek it and feel it, we never reach it if it is really true.
If this star disappears that means that it was never real, it was just an illusion: true love will never disappear. In Shakespeare’s time, science of stars had still not very much progressed, therefore he uses it as an example of something which we know nothing about, love is a mystery that we can feel and see but we know nothing about. This metaphor emphasises the constancy and mystery of love. The third quatrain of this sonnet describes love’s most challenging adversary: time. This is first seen by the capitalisation of the word Time in line 9, continuing with the comparison of time with a sickle, proving how dangerous he finds time.
Although Shakespeare emphasises how powerful time is he is sure that true love is stronger: “Love is not times fool”. Finally we see how love can not be measured in hours and weeks, since love is eternal: “Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom. ” Shakespeare finishes this sonnet by saying that if what he has just written is not true and can be proved to him, he has never written and no man has ever loved. Since we know that Shakespeare has written and men have loved, we can say that his hypothesis that love is constant is true.
Love is a feeling described by humans which has to be true since it is something people feel and can not define so have therefore named it love. This poem is set in a structure in which each quatrain describes what true love is. The theme is never twisted but instead, what has been written in the third quatrain is a continuation of what has been written before. This sonnet is written in iambic pentameter which is very typical in Shakespeare’s sonnets. This sonnet could be described as Shakespeare’s definition of true love.