|On William Shakespeare’s
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds"
by Michelle Sayles
"Let me not to the marriage of true minds" struck me like someone standing on
a soapbox screaming out his beliefs. Shakespeare is making a declaration of
his thoughts on love, and I happen to agree with him. Love cannot be shaken
by adversity nor changed by time. True love is constant: “it is an
Though this poem is short in length it is full of emotion.
Shakespeare makes it known in the first line that he will not come between
two people who are in love. He believes that love is strong enough to endure
temptation and not waver. If love is altered by another, a “remover” of
love, it was not love.
Time is love’s most powerful adversary, and this is demonstrated by the
capitalization of the word making it a living breathing enemy of love.
However powerful Time is, Shakespeare is certain that love is still
stronger. “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks/ Within his
bending sickle’s compass come.” The reference to the sickle shows just how
much of a threat Shakespeare views Time. Like
Death, Time too carries his sickle waiting to steal love that is
based on the loveliness of youth. But of course true love cannot be fooled
by Time. Love cannot be measured in “brief hours and weeks”; love is eternal;
it “bears it out even to the edge of doom.”
The structure of the poem lends to the fluidity. There is a primary rhyme
that is dominant with stronger rhyming and a secondary that has weaker
rhymes but is still powerful in meaning. Out of alignment with the other
lines, but still included in the single stanza, is Shakespeare’s final
declaration. If what he has stated is proven to be wrong he “never writ, nor
no man ever loved.” Since we know, of
course, that Shakespeare has written and that men have loved, Shakespeare's
hypothesis about love must be true—it is constant.
|1 Let me not to the marriage of true minds
2 Admit impediments. Love is not love
3 Which alters when it alteration finds,
4 Or bends with the remover to remove.
5 Oh no! It is an ever fixed mark
6 That looks on tempests and is never shaken.
7 It is the star to every wandering bark,
8 Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
9 Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
10 Within his bending sickle's compass come.
11 Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
12 But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
13 If this be error and upon me proved,
14 I never writ, nor no man ever loved.