Shakespeare's Sonnets - Sonnet 45
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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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This sonnet, the companion to s. 44, imagines the poet’s thoughts and desires as the “other two” elements—air and fire—that make up “life’s composition.” When his thoughts and desires are with the beloved, the poet, reduced to earth and water, sinks into melancholy; when his thoughts and desires return, assuring the poet of the beloved’s “fair health,” the poet is briefly joyful, until he sends them back to the beloved and again is “sad.”
The other two, slight air and purging fire,
Are both with thee, wherever I abide;
The first my thought, the other my desire,
4These present-absent with swift motion slide.
For when these quicker elements are gone
In tender embassy of love to thee,
My life, being made of four, with two alone
8Sinks down to death, oppressed with melancholy;
Until life’s composition be recured
By those swift messengers returned from thee,
Who even but now come back again, assured
12Of ⌜thy⌝ fair health, recounting it to me.
This told, I joy; but then, no longer glad,
I send them back again and straight grow sad.