Summary and Analysis Sonnet 35



Whereas in Sonnet 33 the poet is an onlooker, in the previous sonnet and here in Sonnet 35, the poet recognizes his own contribution to the youth's wrongdoing in the excuses that he has made for the youth over time. Sonnet 35 begins with parallel objects that, although beautiful, contain some sort of imperfection: "Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud." Likewise, clouds, which are a recurring image in the sonnets concerning moral transgressions, darken both night and day, additional favorite images used by the poet. The poet therefore absolves the young man and defends the youth's betrayal.

What is most striking in Sonnet 35 is not that the poet forgives the youth but that the poet actually blames himself for the youth's betrayal more than he does the young man. That he finds himself guilty is emphasized by the legal terminology incorporated in the sonnet: "Thy adverse party is thy advocate — / And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence." The poet admits that he made too much out of the youth's absence from him; he now knows that he overreacted, in part because "Such civil war is in my love and hate." However, if the poet thinks that he can rid himself of this "civil war" simply by acknowledging its existence, the remaining sonnets prove him wrong.