We had a remarkable conversation about this sonnet (no 30) today in which we discovered that the “sessions of sweet silent thought” were those rare meditative moments of complete freedom from automatic, associative thinking that give space to the soul to BREATHE. But what Shakespeare describes in this sonnet is what happens when we give way to the “remembrance of things past”, when we allow the torrent of past events, complaints, grievances, regrets, longings…. to take over our “sweet SILENT thought”. What happens is a descending spiral of negative thoughts that lead us into the darkest parts of our inner world. BUT- the sonnet ends with a glorious lifting out of such a state, a lifting out that is equivalent to being rescued from a deep well by some divine force. The lifting out in this case is a thought directed towards his “dear friend” which liberates him from the darkest depths of the psyche. What a wonderful, powerful transformation, resoundingly affirmed through the wonderfully balanced rhyming couplet: dear friend/ sorrows end. This sonnet describes a miraculous event! Wow.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unus’d to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancell’d woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish’d sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.
Additional Blog Topic (see previous Post for more topics): Using Shakespeare’s sonnet 30 as a starting point, describe a downward spiralling series of thoughts which you are then able to turn away from….. Try this either in poetic or prose form….