This the way Shakespeare recalls his best Friend.

Sonnet 30: When to the Sessions of Sweet Silent Thought

William Shakespeare

Poem Text

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, unus'd to flow,a

For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,

And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,

And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd 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 losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.


This is a sonnet number 30 penned by William Shakespeare. The poem is a remembrance in which the poet is offering like an obituary to his friend named ‘W.H.’ who has recently passed. This is one of the best examples of Shakespearean sonnets. The first three quatrains are arising problems and in the last couplet is giving solution.     

Quatrain 1 - Rhyme Scheme - ABAB

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:


When to the sessions this phrase refers the time when the poet remembers his past friend who has gone beyond the reach of time means have died. There also arises the memories of things that have lost somewhere in the past or the things which the poet could not achieve in his life. He feels pain for many things, which he wanted to own but could not due to any reason. Moreover, these old memories waste his time when he wants to pay his time to his dear friend.   

Quatrain 2 - Rhyme Scheme - CDCD

Then can I drown an eye, unus'd to flow,a

For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,

And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,

And moan th' expense of many a vanish'd sight;


Here in this second quatrain, the poet expresses his grief over the long-lost friends. Unintentionally his eyes wet. He has lost many precious friends in dateless night literally, which means death from which nobody comes back. 

Quatrain 3 - Rhyme Scheme - EFEF

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.


Then poet feels agony in his heart he grieves like never before over the things he has already grieved. One by one all the stories come into his mind. He felt as if he had never grieved before like this time. 

Couplet - Rhyme Scheme - GG

But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,

All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.



In this couplet, the poet overcomes his grief when he recalls his dear friend. He thinks that whenever he remembers his friends all his thoughts of the past forgone. According to him, God has consoled him by giving him memories of so loving friends. All the things restored refer that memories of his dear makes him rather bear all the problems. 

Iambic Pentameter

A poetic meter consisting of a line with five feet in each of which the iamb is dominant. Pentameter is a line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable.

To Be or Not To Be ; That is the questions

One of the best examples of soliloquies in form of a monologue presented by William Shakespeare in one of his great tragedies named Hamlet Act 3, Scene 1 the lines of the poem uttered by prince Hamlet after the death of his father King Hamlet.

Text To Be, Or Not To Be

To be, or not to Be

In this line, the question rises in Hamlet’s mind that what is he going to do, he should do or not. Here, readers know that he is thinking about committing suicide because he is feeling tormented by the fact that his mother was having an illegitimate extramarital affair with his own uncle. They have murdered his father. His father’s soul comes in his dream and asks him to take his revenge and not to hurt anyway his wife. He finds himself unable to do anything and wants to commit suicide in his madness.  

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

He asks himself that is it fine to suffer in mind and take no action against anything causing trouble to a person. He is trying to analyze that is it morally good to suffer and do nothing.

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

He is talking about the acts of his mother and uncle which by fortune giving him mental problems. 

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

In this line, he is arguing an alternative to taking arms against a sea of trouble. He either wants to kill his mother and uncle or him.

And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;

The poet referred to the Death to here as a long sleep.

No more; and by a sleep to say we end

Can he overcome his troubles with the help of suicide?

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

The pain caused by his mother and uncle surprised him after finding their relation.

That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation

He believes that all the pain and troubles are only affecting his body. If he kills himself, He can escape from them because the entire problem can be ended with his body.

Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;

He agrees to die for a long sleep. He thinks it is religiously right to end up and die.

Outrageous: shameful,

Consummation: The act of bringing to completion or fruition

To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;

Here comes a doubt in his conscience that if there comes a dream may be a nightmare in his sleep because he has already compared his death to sleep. He can get more troubles because unlike sleep we cannot rise from deathbed whether it is tormenting us. Moreover, of course, there is a chance of unforeseen obstacles in the afterlife.

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

He knows that nobody knows what dream may come in sleep. We cannot escape from there.

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Right now, he is suffering because his body is heir to problems. 

Must give us pause: there is the respect

He gives a second thought to his plan that he must stop there. He gives examples of the people why they are bearing pains in their daily lives.

That makes calamity of so long life;

Though living a life cause troubles but they are still not killing themselves.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

They tolerate the whips and scorns of time. They continue their lives after all.

The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,

A person bears the wrong behavior done by kings and bosses. He bears the abuses he gets in his daily actions in family, in society, and in offices. 

The pangs of despis'd love, the law's delay,

A lover lives a life with a broken heart; an innocent man lives his life even with the delay of law when he cannot get justice at the right time.

The insolence of office and the spurns

An employee tolerates the abuse at his office made by his bosses

That patient merit of the unworthy takes,

A man lives his with patience and does actions, which have no importance in his life.

When he himself might his quietus, make

He argues in his mind if it is possible to get rid of the circumstance by killing self then why a person lives a painful life.

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

Why do they live a life it is because just they want to live?

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

Why a person lives a life, which is hard?

Rub an unforeseen obstacle

Contumely: abuse

Spurns: rejections

Fardels: burden

But that the dread of something after death,

Hamlet gets a solution here that there a fear of something after death which forces a person to live a life. Afterlife is an uncertainty nobody knows whether he can do something or not there. 

The undiscover'd country from whose bourn

Nobody knows what happens after death. the state after death resembles a country about which we know nothing.

No traveller returns, puzzles the will

It is an immortal universal fact that nobody returns after death. This thing stops him to take any action against life.

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

This is the only thought, which forbids a man to kill himself and rather bear the ills of life.

Than fly to others that we know not of?

He thinks is it right to get into unknown trouble to get rid of renowned problems?

Thus, conscience does make cowards of us all;

This thought makes us cowardly.

And thus the native hue of resolution

There we can see that Hamlet becomes resolute not to take his life.

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

His thoughts banish here.

And enterprises of great pitch and moment

With this regard, their currents turn awry,

And lose the name of action.

Moreover, the step he was going to ahead by killing him in the heat of the moment rejects.

Turn awry: Turned or twisted toward one side

MY LOVE IS LIKE TO ICE, AND I TO FIRE : Nature of Love which can alter others things' Nature .

Amoretti XXX (30)



Stanza: -1   
My Love is like to ice, and I to fire:
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,
But harder grows the more I her entreat?


Explanation: This is a love poem. In the very first line of the first stanza, the poet has presented a striking image of his beloved and himself with the help of a simile. He compares her with Ice and himself with burning fire. Both the matters have distinct features, which show that the couple is standing with some kind of differences between them. In the second line, the poet expresses his surprise at how can she be such a cold-hearted who is very irresponsive towards the poet’s love. On the contrary, she becomes harder as much as the poet shows his love to her. Poet finds him unable to turn her feelings in love despite his burning zeal for love.


Stanza: -2   

Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
Is not allayed by her heart-frozen cold,
But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
And feel my flames augmented manifold?


Explanation: Here, in these lines poet tries to consider the fact that if he believes that she is not giving him love then why he himself cannot be hard towards her. Why is he unable to leave her and forget his love? On the other hand, as much as she ignores him is love becomes stronger rather than before. He says that his flames of love grow to manifold instead of becoming cold.


Stanza: -3   

What more miraculous thing may be told,
That fire, which all things melts, should harden ice,
And ice, which is congeal’d with senseless cold,
Should kindle fire by wonderful device?


Explanation: In this stanza, the poet wants to gather the fact that is there anything that contains magical power to turn the nature of things, which is governing their mind and heart? In general, more powering heat can melt the Ice and more powering cold can congeal the fire. There is happing something unusual in which Ice becomes harder with fire and fire grows more with Ice.

Couplet: -4          

Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
That it can alter all the course of kind.


Explanation: In this couplet, the poet finds his solution. He now understands that it is the power of his pure and noble love. He says love has such power, which can alter even the course of nature.  



The theme of this sonnet is explaining the power of love, which can cause alteration of feelings, emotions, and the natural course of life. This sonnet, therefore, has a very popular subject matter- the lover trying hard to immortalize the relationship. 

The poem is a sonnet grouped into three quatrains and a couplet. “Spencer splits his poem into four different sections, each section being a question “The lady in this sonnet is compared to ice whose feelings of coldness keep her disinterested towards the burning love of the speaker. She is a heartless, insensitive woman who is not ready to meltdown on the speaker's efforts and love. The speaker is thus shocked to notice such a type of behavior and wonders that his exceeding passions of love are responsible for the increasing indifference in the woman. The speaker surprisingly is hopeful that one day his burning passions of love will melt her down and she will understand his love and true feelings. Love sometimes seems unattainable but you do not truly know it is out of reach unless you try, Edmund Spenser portrays this message in his poem “My Love is Like to Ice.” 

This poem was taken out from his literary work the “Amoretti,” which was written as a part of the courtship of his second wife Elizabeth Boyle. This poem shows his struggle for love, knowing the intent of the poet’s reason for writing such beautiful poetry gives us the advantage when analyzing. Spenser uses two interesting elements to convey his feelings and emotions in reference to love to show us why love is mutual and should not be given up upon. Symbolism is seen throughout the poem very often with respect to human emotions and feelings. The nature of these two elements shows the reader that there is no such thing as impossible love. Spenser splits his poem into four different sections, each section being a question, which illustrates human emotions and feelings through different states of love. The first section carries its own tone and mood, set by the first line, “My love is like to ice, and I to fire,” Spenser chooses two elements that are incompatible and completely opposite from each other. The speaker in Spenser's sonnet 'My Love Is Like to Ice' is the mask the poet adopts, using an ancient rhetorical device. The poet and the speaker are not necessarily the same. You can consider it the perceiving consciousness if you prefer; the main thing is to avoid the confusion and misunderstanding that accompanies the error. Please remember that a poet like Spenser was always in complete control of his subject. He was not given to flights of fancy in any way whatsoever! 


The poem is a sonnet grouped into three quatrains and a couplet. The rhyme scheme of the first quatrain is such as:- 

ABAB/fire, great, desire, entreat
BCBC/heat, cold, sweat, manifold
CDCD/told, ice, cold, device
EE/mind, kind

The first line is a simile that compares his beloved - one to ice and the speaker to a fire that for some reason does not thaw his frozen love. The more he pursues her, the faster she flees (the colder she gets!). There is a 'law of contraries' being created here that defies natural law - those laws like gravity that operate on one and all in normal circumstances. Nevertheless, these are not normal times, the speaker alleges. This is a time for miracles in the realm of romance. We are in an unusual place where the usual laws do not apply. The couplet resolves the dilemma by sleight of language - the power of love can overrule natural love and change our very nature. 

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