Sonnet 75 | Breakdown of Shakespeare's Sonnets
sonnet 75

Sonnet 75

Written by on | Shakespeare

In this sonnet we catch a glimpse of the poet being pushed and pulled by the young man. Which makes a change from a number of the other sonnets as the poet isn’t simply keeling over to the power of the love they feel for the young man. This sonnet is pretty straight forward. We have the poet essentially saying that they feel sometimes as if they ‘feast upon’ the young man’s beauty too much, but other times they can’t get enough of it. Let’s take a look.

Sonnet 75 (Original Text)

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
Or as sweet seasoned show’rs are to the ground;
And for the peace of you I hold such strife
As ’twixt a miser and his wealth is found;
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
Now counting best to be with you alone,
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight
And by and by clean starvèd for a look;
Possessing or pursuing no delight,
Save what is had or must from you be took.
Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

 

Verse Breakdown

Bold = Stressed
Unbold = Unstressed
ABCDEFG = Rhyming Pattern
(F) = Feminine Ending

So are you to my thoughts as food to life, A
Or as sweet seasoned show’rs are to the ground; B
And for the peace of you I hold such strife A
As twixt a miser and his wealth is found; B
Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon C
Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure; D (F)
Now counting best to be with you alone, C
Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure; D (F)
Sometime all full with feasting on your sight E
And by and by clean starvèd for a look; F
Possessing or pursuing no delight, E
Save what is had or must from you be took. F
     Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day, G
     Or gluttoning on all, or all away. G

Modern Translation

You are to my thoughts what food is to life
Or like rain to the ground
And to get the peace in my life that only you can provide
I fight with myself like a cheapskate with their wealth
At first proud of their wealth
And the next minute worried that someone from this untrustworthy time will steal their treasure
One moment I think it’s best to be alone with you
And the next I want the whole world to see you
Sometimes I’m overfilled from looking at you
And the next minute I’m starved of you and need a look
Whether I possess your beauty or I’m pursuing it there’s no pleasure
Except what you can give me or I can take from you
So I suffer from my hunger for you every day
I either have too much of you, or none at all

Thought Breakdown & Analysis

So are you to my thoughts as food to life,
You are to the mind what food is to the body.

Or as sweet seasoned show’rs are to the ground;
Or like rain is to the ground.

And for the peace of you I hold such strife
And to get peace in life that only you can provide I go through the same troubles as

As ’twixt a miser and his wealth is found;
A miser and his wealth. So that’s our first quatrain. A fairly straightforward one. The poet is saying that the young man is wonderful and they’d go through a lot of trouble for their company.

Now proud as an enjoyer, and anon
At first the miser is happy to have their wealth. But the next minute.

Doubting the filching age will steal his treasure;
They’re paranoid about someone stealing their treasure because they live in such an untrustworthy age.

Now counting best to be with you alone,
At first I think it’s best to be alone with you.

Then bettered that the world may see my pleasure;
And soon after I think the world must see what brings me such great pleasure. End of the second quatrain. We’ve invested and dug a little deeper into our hypothesis.

Sometime all full with feasting on your sight
Sometimes I think I’ve had as much of you as I can take.

And by and by clean starvèd for a look;
And soon after I’m starving for a look at you.

Possessing or pursuing no delight,
No matter what I do. Be it in pursuit or possession of you there’s no delight. No joy.

Save what is had or must from you be took.
Except what you can give me or I can give to you. So in the third quatrain of this sonnet. The turn. The only hard and sharp turn the poet takes is that they talk about the idea that they could possibly have enough of the young man. But that idea is swiftly quashed when the poet says ‘oh but as soon as I think that I change my mind. It’s an immensely flattering and loving sonnet.

Thus do I pine and surfeit day by day,
So everyday I pine and hunger for you

Or gluttoning on all, or all away.
I either have too much of you or none at all. This is a really loving sonnet and is pretty straightforward. What we take away from this sonnet is that the poet in this is philosophising with the idea that they can indeed have too much of a good thing but only slightly.

Unfamiliar Language

Sweet-seasoned (adj.)
old form: sweet season’d
filled with sweetness, gently falling

Enjoyer (n.)
old form: inioyer
possessor, owner

Anon (adv.)
soon, shortly, presently

Sometime (adv.)
old form: Some-time
sometimes, now and then

Clean (adv.)
old form: cleane
totally, absolutely, utterly

By and By (adv.)
shortly, soon, before long

Surfeit (v.)
old form: surfet
become sick through having too much

Read more: Shakespeare’s Best Sonnets

About the Author

Jake Fryer-Hornsby

Jake Fryer-Hornsby is an actor, writer, and educator based in Sydney, and originally hailing from regional Western Australia. Jake graduated from WAAPA in 2017 and since then has gone on to work on and off stages around the country. You can find Jake taking shelter from the sun in any number of outdoor areas and/or on the hunt for his next caffeine fix.

About the Author

Jake Fryer-Hornsby

Jake Fryer-Hornsby is an actor, writer, and educator based in Sydney, and originally hailing from regional Western Australia. Jake graduated from WAAPA in 2017 and since then has gone on to work on and off stages around the country. You can find Jake taking shelter from the sun in any number of outdoor areas and/or on the hunt for his next caffeine fix.

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