You must lay lime to tangle her desires
      By wailful sonnets, whose composed rhymes
      Should be full-fraught with serviceable vows.
Two Gentlemen of Verona Act 3 Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

A bit of self-mockery on Shakespeare’s part? Shakespeare, of course, wrote a lot of sonnets—154 of them, to be exact. Many of them are clearly composed with the intent to woo, although they vary widely and some dissect the end of a relationship or meditate on desire, age, time, and death. Critical debate continues as to the intended recipients of Shakespeare’s sonnets, with most agreeing that different batches address a so-called Fair Youth, Rival Poet, and Dark Lady.

If Shakespeare is poking fun at himself here, he’s also poking fun at the sonnet form, and the way it’s used in the hands of bad poets—then as now. The sonnets should be “wailful” (melodramatic, heartsick), Proteus advises, and stuffed to the gills with promises. Serviceable here means “ready to do service,” not “good enough to do the trick.”

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This love feel I, that feel no love in this. Romeo and Juliet Act 1 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

I feel this kind of love [with all the characteristics just mentioned: “heavy lightness,” etc.], even though nobody loves me back.

Here and throughout the first act, Romeo talks a lot about love before he’s truly in it—i.e. before he’s met Juliet. This is one of the jokes of the play, and ultimately one of its tragic elements: Romeo and Juliet is in part the story of Romeo’s education in what love is really like.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-voFydnXGA

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'Ask me no reason why I love you; for though
Love use Reason for his physician, he admits him
not for his counsellor.
The Merry Wives Of Windsor Act 2 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

We can try to reason our way through the problems of love, but we can’t reason our way into love—love is blind, and blindness.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLEQ9aD__co

Many writers throughout history (besides U2) have remarked on the irrationality of love. The French mathematician/philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote:

The heart has its reasons, whereof reason knows nothing.

Emily Dickinson wrote simply:

The Heart wants what it wants — or else it does not care.

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But where there is true friendship, there needs none. Timon of Athens Act 1 Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

True friends don’t need to make formal gestures of respect with one another. Note, though, that Timon’s courtly insistence that the banqueters not stand on ceremony is a little bit ceremonial itself.

Timon of Athens adaptation at Chicago Shakespeare Theater (via)

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I love you now; but not, till now, so much
But I might master it:
Troilus and Cressida Act 3 Scene 2 by William Shakespeare

i.e., I love you, but until now, not so much that I couldn’t keep it under control and keep from revealing it to you. (Cressida goes on to contradict herself in the next breath; she’s rambling a little.)

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'By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible;
True, that thou art beauteous; truth itself, that
thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful
than beauteous, truer than truth itself,
Love's Labours Lost Act 4 Scene 1 by William Shakespeare

“It’s an undeniable truth that you’re beautiful—no, it’s truth itself that you’re beautiful—no, you’re more beautiful than beautiful…”

A great example of over-the-top language in a play that thrives on verbal excess. Noted critic and (sometimes over-the-top) Shakespeare lover Harold Bloom has written:

[Love’s Labour’s Lost is] a festival of language, an exuberant fireworks display in which Shakespeare seems to seek the limits of his verbal resources, and discovers that there are none. (Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human)

Some of this excess is parodistic, as here, but some of it is the playwright glorying in his own gift for words.

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Yet doth it steal sweet hours from love's delight. Sonnet 36 by William Shakespeare

i.e., It [the situation that’s ending the relationship—evidently nasty rumors or public disgrace] steals our pleasure by forcing us to spend more time apart.

The sonnet is part of the so-called Fair Youth sequence, in which the speaker addresses a male lover. The disgrace may have something to do with their illicit passion, or it may be something the speaker has done himself—throughout the sonnet the speaker expresses his desire to bear the full burden of shame.

Shamespeare

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I squint from a homebound train Ode to the Hartford Whalers by Austin Allen (Ft. Perfectrhyme) 3

This would be the Northeast Regional line running from Virginia to Massachusetts, and passing through central Connecticut.

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These days I live down south, Ode to the Hartford Whalers by Austin Allen (Ft. Perfectrhyme) 3

When I wrote this poem, I lived in Maryland, which is technically south of the Mason-Dixon. Then I moved north again. Then I moved south again. The truthfulness of the poem fluctuates.

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(“Insurance City”) Ode to the Hartford Whalers by Austin Allen (Ft. Perfectrhyme) 3

Hartford is home to many insurance companies, including, most obviously, The Hartford. Another nickname for the city, courtesy of The Boston Globe: “America’s Filing Cabinet.”

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