In the sonnet ‘Shakespeare’, Mathew Arnold sings the praises of Shakespeare, the greatest poet and the dramatist. Arnold commends and compliments the indeterminable and inexplicable immenseness of Shakespeare as poet and playwright which form the thematic essence of the poem. The deep and profound understanding of human minds and manners as well as intrinsically complex working of human feeling and emotions find apt and accurate expression in Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s greatness and grandeur is not for an age but for all ages; his poems and plays appeal to all in all ages. Shakespeare is quite the Bard.
Others abide our question. Thou art free.
We ask and ask- thou smilest and art still
Out-topping all knowledge. For the loftiest hill,
Who to the stars uncrowns his majesty
Planting his steadfast footsteps in the sea,
Making heaven of heavens his dwelling place, Spares but the cloudy border of his base To the foil’d searching of mortality;
1. Who are “Others’ referred to in the first line of the extract? What is the contrast expressed in the first line of the extract?
Mathew Arnold refers to poets other than Shakespeare here and carries out a comparative evaluation of Shakespeare and other poets in the first line of the poem.
Sonnet is a lyrical poem of 14 lines with a definite rhyme scheme. There are
two types of sonnets in general the Petrarchan Sonnet and the English Sonnet
popularly known as the Shakespearean Sonnet as Shakespearean was an ardent practitioner of the Sonnet form.
Petrarchan sonnet (with the rhyme scheme abba, abba, cde, cde) has two divisions: the first eight lines called the octave and the remaining six lines
called the sestet. The octave is further
divided into two sections of four lines each known as the quatrains. The Sonneteer, usually, presents a problem or
an argument in the octave and then tries to resolve the problem or argument in
The Shakespearean Sonnet follows a different pattern (with the rhyme scheme abba,
cdcd, efef, gg) with three quatrains and the final couplet. Love in its myriad
forms was the trendiest theme of the sonnets.
times the poets experimented with the form of the sonnet and Mathew Arnold’s
sonnet ‘Shakespeare’ is a typical example of this. The basic Petrarchan structure is modified in this sonnet with the turning point coming in the line 11
instead in the line 9 as in Petrarch. Arnold employs the rhyme scheme abba,
acca, de, de, ff: the octave remains divided into two quatrains but the sestet
is divided into three rhyming couplets.
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