Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29 – Thoughts On Depression.

Hereunder, Paterson Joseph reads Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29: “When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes.”

What do you tell a friend who is suffering from depression: ‘It’s OK for you to NOT feel OK’. ‘You can continue to move forward in the face of your depression’. ‘I’m here for you, no matter what’. ‘Help is available’ and your story isn’t fully over’.
But sometimes such advice and encouragement is not enough, so it is important to get across the message that we all feel depressed during many stages in our life and in living. ‘You’re not alone’, can offer more comfort sometimes to those depressed, as in the realisation, that “the man with no shoes can often meet the man with no feet.

William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, was written possibly sometime between 1593 and 1601, and speaks of a character, possibly himself, who is in a serious state of depression, stating that when he meets with misfortune “disgrace with fortune” he feels disgraced in front of other men, “men’s eyes“. He weeps alone “alone be weep” and cries out to heaven, latter who appears to be deaf to his same appeals “deaf heaven with my bootless cries”, and he is now left feeling much self-pity and regret, cursing his situation “and curse my fate”.

He wishes, “wishing me”, that he was a man who had more hope, “one more rich in hope”, and wishes to be like those, “featured like him”, who are handsome and appear to have more friends, “him with friends possessed”.
He further wishes that he had been provided with another man’s skills, “desiring this man’s art”, or with someone else’s opportunities “that man’s scope”, which he now has set his heart on, but doesn’t have mastery over, thus making him unhappier, “what I most enjoy contented least”.

In spite of hating himself, “thoughts myself almost despising”, he thinks of this love, “I think on thee” and those thoughts now lift his heart like the lark in the early morning, “lark at break of day”, latter who flies upward towards the sky, as if to sing at the very gates of heaven itself, “hymns at heaven’s gate”.

He says thoughts of his love somehow bring him a sort of emotional peace, which in turn he compares to wealth, “sweet love remembered such wealth brings”, and that he would not wish to exchange this peace with the material wealth of kings “scorn to change my state with kings”.

Shakespeare – Sonnet 29.

When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heav’n, with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate.
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.



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