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Sonnet 116- Let Me Not To The Marriage Of True Minds- William Shakespeare

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare


            Sonnet number 116: “Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds” by William Shakespeare is a profound exploration of Human love. This sonnet like any other sonnet of Shakespeare is a testament to human characteristics and the nature of love. However, what keeps this sonnet stand different than others is its metaphoric approach. The poem resounds how at times; Love can be strong and immovable and is not afraid even of the strongest of challenges. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is “ababcdcdefefgg”.  



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-fixèd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wand'ring 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.

Summary: Sonnet 116

            Shakespeare begins his sonnet with the words ‘Let me not to the marriage of true minds’; referring to true lovers, and here marriage does not mean a literal marriage. Here he simply wants to imply that he doesn’t wish to participate in the conversation of how true lovers act in life. However, he would continue to accept 'impediments', referring to obstacles in life. He says, that in lovers’ life, there always exists a word called obstacle. He goes on to write, ‘love is not love which alters when it alteration finds or bends with the remover to remove’, referring to the human inability to sometimes adapt to situations. Here Shakespeare says that even when there is a strong demand to alter, that is to change to situations, a true lover will somehow find a way not to change according to situations and still be intact with his/ her lover. The remover here refers to the envious people who cannot stand the true love of the lovers and they might try all their luck to remove their love from existing, and yet, the true lovers shall not bend.


  Shakespeare calls it an ‘ever-fixed mark’, calling it a symbol of permanence; Permanence that looks upon tempests without fear and is never shaken in the strongest of storms.  He further compares it with a star, which helps a wandering bark. A wandering bark is a wandering ship, which often relies on the pole star for its direction. He then writes that there is a possibility to measure the height and distance of the star, however, the worth of the star i.e. love, is unknown, and that, it is ‘priceless’.

            ‘Love is not time’s fool’: Shakespeare says that love is not time’s fool and does not rely on it. Though with time (bending sickle’s compass come), the rosy lips and cheeks which shine and look beautiful may fade, the love will not change even in that short period. Ultimately, it will continue till the ‘edge of doom’, referring to its eternal quality. (Doom is a Christian belief of the end of the world)

Finally in the last two lines (i.e.) couplet, Shakespeare challenges his readers, saying that if anything that is written in the sonnet is proved wrong, then may the reader believe that he never wrote in his life, nor no man ever loved truly in his life.


-William Shakespeare's Sonnets

-Poetry Foundation

~Literpretation Team for Education

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