17 Jul

During the program, we will specifically work on one sonnet in Shakespeare class.  My choice is Sonnet 149, it goes like this:

Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake?
Do I not think on thee, when I forgot
Am of myself, all tyrant, for thy sake?
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend?
On whom frown'st thou that I do fawn upon?
Nay, if thou lour'st on me, do I not spend
Revenge upon myself with present moan?
What merit do I in myself respect,
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best doth worship thy defect,
Commanded by the motion of thine eyes?
But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind;
Those that can see thou lovest, and I am blind.


This sonnet is about lunatic love, for which the speaker gives up his self-identity, his friends, his self-esteem only to be on the side with his lover; at the end he realizes that it is all a game and he was meant to lose from the beginning ("I am blind"), so his love turns into hatred.

I am fascinated by how this sonnet flows.  This is a perfect example of the use of contrasting words in Shakespeare's work.  I love how the speaker devotes himself to his lover with his own moan and madness.


In the first week, we were told to firstly act out - really exaggerate - every word in our sonnets - doesn't matter whether the action makes sense or not - to feel the importance of every single word and the reason that the poet chose them, even for words like "the," "of," and "upon" there is a certain meaning associated with them.

In my private time doing the table work, I highlighted words like "I" "my" "myself" in a color, and words like "thou" "thee" "thy" in another color, to emphasize how "you" and "me" are important in this relationship.  I looked up some words on the online Oxford English Dictionary and got a lot from that.  I noticed the rhyme scheme and paid special attention to every word at the end of each line.

In today's lesson, we first worked through the meaning of each line.  I started to make larger movements and let the emotions flow through my body.  I became more aware of every single word in this sonnet.  Jen said that in Shakespearian time, "myself" is often written in two worlds, so that the idea of "self" was essential to the emotions.

Jen asked me to deliver the words to a very specific person in the audience.  And then she had a classmate to hold my shoulders so that I had a force of resistance.  When I was delivering the sonnet, she kept saying "go!" "breathe and go!" all the time, to really push me forward and let my emotions pour out before they fall back to form the very composed me.

At last I did a great job and received positive feedbacks.  I could not enjoy more about going down a train track and let my emotions crash - love, hate, anger...  I like it so much.  It is a unique feeling to me because I am always very composed in daily life and I naturally live that way.  Being blunt and a bit crazy is certainly out of my comfort zone, but I really want to relive that experience again now, and continue to work with this status of "pouring out the words" instead of presenting the words and thinking of putting myself together.

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