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HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! FSC Founding Member and Resident Scholar, Steve Buhler, on Sonnet 128


In Sonnet 128, Shakespeare playfully connects musical skill, social customized, and ardent longing. The speaker within the poem tells his beloved that he admires her ability and wishes her individual. He sketches a scene the place she performs a keyboard instrument and he’s moved by what he hears and sees. It is a common incidence since he feedback that this occurs “oft.” 

His listening to is charmed by the concord she gently instructions from the wires which are struck or plucked as she presses down on the wood keys. These keys – additionally known as jacks – instantly rise again up, able to be performed once more. The speaker footage them as rival suitors, desirous to kiss the woman’s arms time and again. 

His resolution to this drawback (for him) and his proposal (to the woman) is to let the keys proceed to kiss her candy fingers however to let him kiss her lips as an alternative. The language all through the poem is simply suggestive sufficient to speak that the speaker wish to specific his love with extra than simply kisses.

How oft when thou, my music, music play’st,

Upon that blessed wooden whose movement sounds

With thy candy fingers when thou gently sway’st

The wiry harmony that mine ear confounds,

Do I envy these jacks that nimble leap,

To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,

While my poor lips which ought to that harvest reap,

On the wooden’s boldness by thee blushing stand!

To be so tickled, they might change their state

And scenario with these dancing chips,

O’er whom thy fingers stroll with mild gait,

Making lifeless wooden extra bless’d than residing lips.

Since saucy jacks so blissful are on this,

Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss.

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