children, comparisons, gratitude, love, poem, poor, Shakespeare, Sonnet 29, stupid, thankfulness, ugly, wealth
Some drums need to be beaten over and over: gratefulness or thankfulness is one of those. Regret-driven, or envious people are never truly satisfied nor happy; but grateful people are.
You’ve probably heard people say, “We were poor when I was a child but I was happy” as if it’s a paradox. But it’s not a contradiction: One of the things we can remember to learn from children is that they take and give love (eagerly) where they find it—and material things mean little to them. Shakespeare recognized the misery of ignoring your own “wealth” when comparing yourself to others in this sonnet. I have placed a paraphrase below it (for another paraphrase you may view it at: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/29.html
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven 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 possess’d,
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 remember’d such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
By William Shakespeare
Sonnet 29 (by William Shakespeare, paraphrased)
When left alone by both fortune and people’s favor
Then, Lonely Me gets depressed and cries—
And ask God, “Why not me?” or “Why!?”
as I look at myself, at my condition and at my luck.
I wish to be like those with a bright and certain future–
Or ravishing good looks, or with all those great friends.
I’m envious of other’s abilities, and jealous of their lifestyle.
Yet what I truly love in my life, I am most oblivious of.
When I’m in this spot, I hate myself.
But if by chance, I think of you, then my heart
is like a lark rising up at dawn’s daylight
from darkest earth, singing hymns at heaven’s gate;
For your sweet love, remembered such, wealth brings—
And then I wouldn’t change my life with kings.
Sonnet 29 is my favorite sonnet by Shakespeare. When my father turned 50, and I was 19, I “po-jacked” this very sonnet and created a sonnet dedicated to him. Brings back memories. And yes, I thought like a “child” then! Thank you for this wonderful post!