“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.“
The Sonnet has been beautifully interpreted in “Ilium” by Dan Simmons. A character of Simmons by the name Mahnmut who is a resident of Mars is a Shakespheare scholar and he tries to intepret the true meaning of this Sonnet by the great playwright.
Here is an excerpt:
“Mahnmut suddenly saw where it fit. Like so many great poets, Shakespheare began his poems before or after they began. But if this was a poem of refutation, what was it refuting? What had the youth said to the older, love-besotted poet that needed such vehement refutation?
Mahnmut extended fingers from his primary manipulator, and took up his stylus, and scribbled on his t-slate –
Dear Will – Certainly we’d both like the marriage of true minds we – since men cannot share the sacramental marriage of bodies – to be as real and permanent as real marriage. But it can’t be. People change, Will. Circumstances change. When the qualities of people or the people themselves go away, one’s love does as well. I loved you once, Will, I really did, but you’ve changed, you’ve altered, and so there has been a change in me and an alteration in our love.
Yours most sincerely
Mahnmut had earlier deduced that the Sonnet was addressed by Shakespheare to a thirteen year old young boy.
This part of the book actually was so amazing and the clarity of the deduction and the interpretation struck me. Ilium has won many awards and I am right now lapping it up. Will keep you posted though 😉