‘Hugely Politic’: Self-Containment

  • Gerald Hammond


The final group of sonnets in the young man sequence is 122–126, and it is difficult to see these five fitting anywhere else than at its end. It would be possible to make a case for their finality on the grounds that they take up and modify elements from the rest of the sequence, but in a collection so repetitive in imagery and language this would be a weak argument since almost any other five sonnets in the sequence might do the same. A more powerful case for their finality rests on their emotional and intellectual completing of what has gone before. As a whole, and from Sonnet zoo in particular, the sequence has moved from the total dependence of the poet upon the young man towards a realisation of his self-sufficiency. In previous chapters I have discussed the way Sonnets 116 and 121 assert a complete reliance on internal values: but their assertion is just that, bold proclamation that “love is not love which…” and “I am that I am”. In this final group of sonnets the self assertion is repeated, but now with the depth and conviction of a sustained piece of self definition.


Final Group Weak Argument Great Basis Complete Reliance Impersonal Pronoun 
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Copyright information

© Gerald Hammond 1981

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  • Gerald Hammond

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