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Essay on the Artful Paradox of Sonnet 66

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In sonnet 66, Shakespeare creates a paradoxical difficulty for himself as a poet. As Helen Vendler points out, the censorship described in line 9 necessitates an absence of art from the poem (309-10), yet coevally Shakespeare must keep the reader interested. He straddles this problem by speeding the tempo, creating questions in the reader’s mind, and representing intense emotions-- all through apparently artless techniques.

Most obtrusively, both sound technique and constant end-stoppage speed this poem’s tempo in an apparently craft less way. The sound techniques of sonnet 66 jingle horridly, fulfilling the requirement of artlessness, yet they also speed the tempo, preventing the reader from becoming bored with the poem. Vendler points to the presence of tri and quadrisyllabic rhymes as particular errors (310), but such sound repetition rushes the reader through the poem. Alliteration, as in "beggar born" (2) and "needy nothing" (3); assonance as in "I cry" (1) and "And captive" (12); and consonance as in "and gilded" (5) achieve the same end, though with less apparent craftessn...


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