Long Distance Relationships in Shakespeare’s 44th Sonnet

1 January 2017

Nothing is more painful than not being able to be with one’s true love and long distance relationships often do not last. This can be caused by many elements that cannot be controlled. In Shakespeare’s 44th sonnet, the speaker reveals the obstacles of distance, time, and his physical self which block him from his lover. The poem begins with the speaker’s fantasy about overcoming the great distance between him and his lover.

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He has a theory that “injurious distance should not stop [his] way” if he were to transcend his physical body and become an idea (Line 2). Being human has hindered his ability to be with his partner. He envisions something lighter that cannot be weighted down because he sees his “flesh” as a heavy burden keeping him from his prize (Line 1). This fantasy brings him away from actuality for a while and gives him hope. The “thought” he refers to is intangible and able to float above land (Line 1). Furthermore, he reveals that if this transformation were to occur, “despite of space” he would be brought to “where [his love] dost stay. (Lines 3,4). He is engrossed in finding an answer to his problem, because of the passion he feels for his partner. He dreams of a situation in which love overcomes physical barriers.

Although his solution is impossible, it gives him some temporary relief towards the pang of loneliness. In the second quatrain, the poet further explores the options after his conversion into the weightless nature of a thought. Again he states that it would not matter how far away he was from his loved one, for he would be extremely portable. “For nimble thought can jump both sea and land. (Line 7)

He presents this idea one again, further emphasizing the huge convenience of being in this state. Nothing would stand in the way of his beloved. In the last line of the quatrain, the speaker observes that he would arrive to his desired destination “as soon as think the place where he would be. ” (Line 8) This is the first presentation of time as one of the obstructions keeping him from his companion. He longs to be there immediately but unfortunately cannot due to his circumstances. This vision has many conveniences, although it is not plausible in truth.

The narrator comes to terms with his humanlike state in the final quatrain and admits that none of his wishful thinking will come true. The recognition causes him pain and he exclaims this by saying, “But ah! Thought kills me that I am not thought. ” (Line 9) The very thing that caused him to hope now causes him grief. His despair is encouraged by the disappointment of not being granted his request. Also, he once again refers to the heaviness of his body, being “so much of earth and water wrought. ” (Line 11) These two substantial elements fill him up and therefore tie him down.

The human body can only do so much and his love is too far away for him to reach. Finally, he realizes he must submit and “attend time’s leisure. ” (Line 12) He is at the mercy of time and is forced to be patient. However, he finds it hard to wait for the thing he longs for most. The poet has seen reality and knows he ought to accept whatever comes. The couplet shows the poet’s true grief and mourning for what he has lost. He summarizes his struggles when admits that he receives “nought by elements so slow. ” (Line 13) His body moves to slowly for his liking.

He does not receive anything from it of value and therefore is not satisfied. He does, however, receive “heavy tears,” which drain him and leave him even weaker (Line 14). He has no chance of seeing his lover any time soon and as a result, is left unfulfilled. The tears also bring him nothing but are “badges of either’s woe. ” (Line 14) They symbolize the pain both feel towards their long distance relationship. He must accept this as his only honor. In this sonnet, the poet becomes a slave to the physical elements of nature.

Although he longs to overcome these technicalities, he is forced to accept what is beyond his control. His lover is far away and they cannot be together. He attempts to defer his despair by dreaming of the endless boundaries of shedding the physical body. His love runs so deep he must find his only solace in this fantasy. However, because this situation cannot be, he only adds to his anguish making him even more miserable. He does nothing to help his case but shed a few tears.

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