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Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 116” is a love poem, but a love poem which takes a quite different path than many other love poems and also different from the other love poems of Shakespeare’s age.  One of the most innovative ideas in Shakespeare’s sonnet is the idea that marriage and love take place at multiple levels between people and that in making a bond with another person, a kind of sacred bond is created or discovered in the pursuit of romance and erotic pleasure.          However, the poem begins with a reference to “minds” rather than hearts or lips or any of the expected imagery of a love poem. By beginning the poem “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/ Admit impediments”, Shakespeare leads the reader into a rather surprising variation on the expected sentiments of a love poem which generally cites physical attributes and physical interaction as a theme for the poem.In Shakespeare’s poem the “marriage of true minds” takes precedence over the physical aspects of love. “True minds” indicates an aspect of each of the lovers which may have felt incomplete prior to their coupling. There is the suggestion that when two people fall in love it is a cerebral as much as physical process. In many ways, the theme of the poem as it develops puts a lot of emphasis on the opening lines. As the reader follows the development of the poem it becomes obvious that the poem describes a love-relationship of ideal proportions but the poem also insinuates what lesser relationships may be made out of by contrast. In other words, the poem describes the virtues of a “marriage of true minds” and by describing these virtues Shakespeare also defines, by insinuation, lesser relationships.If a “marriage of true minds” results in a form of love which cannot be lessened by  vanity or a power struggle between the partners: “Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds,/ Or bends with the remover to remove”; the idea is that in a “marriage of true minds,” there is no dominant partner, no person imposing his or her conditions or “aleterations” on the other partner.  IN addition, the lack of power-struggle allows positive aspects of each of the lovers to grown and manifest themselves.For those in a sacred “marriage of true minds” love becomes “an ever-fixed mark/That looks on tempests and is never shaken” and these lines indicate that true lovers do not abandon their relationship based on obstacles or challenges or emotional crises. The “star for every wandering bark” shows that others who witness such a “marriage of true minds” will also find themselves emboldened in their own seeking for true love and the visible marriage of “thru minds” inspires others to the same.At this point in the poem, the attentive reader may begin to ask whether Shakespeare’s poem is really a love poem in the traditional sense and whether or not the poem is actually trying to describe something much different than human love. The line “Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.” suggests that the “marriage of true minds” allows not only for joy and love but in the realization of passion and experience which can not be know any other way. This line, among others, suggests that the poem may be not about love relationships between a man and woman per se, but perhaps it a poem about the relationship between a poet and his “muse” or the relationship of a person to themself. As strange as that may sound, the lines which emphasize time and the presence of death seem to suggest that Shakespeare’s love poem is indeed about something much more profound than human love between people:Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeksWithin his bending sickle’s compass come:Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,But bears it out even to the edge of doom.The idea that love can transcend death is not as startlingly as new as the idea that love is a “marriage of true minds” and would not have been seen as an original idea by Shakespeare’s Elizabethan audience, but by relating this section of the poem to the opening lines, a real sense of novelty is reached because although the poem makes note of “rosy lips and cheeks” as the physical and erotic element of the poem, the poem’s actual thrust is based in the images and ideas which relate tot he intellect and soul.By crafting a love poem which generates its passion and imagery out of the spiritual and intellectual powers rather than those of physical beauty or erotic lust, Shakespeare creates a truly new theme and sentiment in his poem, suggesting that human love can be looked at as a model for the ideal synthesis of art or of ideas or even of personal  vision.The poem need not be read only or even primarily as a study of human love, but as a vision of what human love as a metaphor for spiritual and intellectual growth. Looked at this way, the poem becomes more a testament to Shakespeare’s own artistic soul and creative spirit than a celebration of a specific woman or a specific relationship between people. The lines of the poem suggest that a more complete form of human emotion and human intellect can be reached through  ” a marriage of true minds.”;;Let me not to the marriage of true mindsAdmit impediments. Love is not loveWhich alters when it alteration finds,Or bends with the remover to remove:O no! it is an ever-fixed markThat looks on tempests and is never shaken;It is the star to every wandering bark,Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeksWithin his bending sickle’s compass come:Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,But bears it out even to the edge of doom.If this be error and upon me proved,I never writ, nor no man ever loved.;

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