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Sonnet CXVI: Let Me Not 

About the poet

William Shakespeare is recognized as the national poet of England and one of the greatest dramatists in the world. He wrote 37 plays,154 sonnets, and several poems. His sonnets are categorized into three groups. Sonnets nos. 1 to 126 are addressed to his near and dear friend Mr. W. H. who is also known as ‘the Fair Youth’, Sonnets nos. 127 to 152 are addressed to the black lady who is known as ‘the Dark Lady’, and the last sonnets are addressed to Cupid, God of love. He is well known for his sonnets which consist of three quatrains and a rhyming couplet.

About the sonnet

♦William Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets and published them in 1609.

♦It is a Shakespearean sonnet that has three quatrains and a concluding couplet.

♦William Shakespeare addresses this sonnet to his friend Mr. William Herbert.

♦Sonnet CXVI by William Shakespeare enriches us with knowledge about all the features of true love. In this sonnet, he claims, true love is eternal and constant.

♦It is written in iambic pentameter . It follows a rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg.

♦It is written in an assured tone.


In Sonnet CXVI, William opines that nothing is an obstacle in the way of true love which is a union of two true soulmates. A true lover does not change his love if he observes any change in his beloved or he does not deform his beloved and replaces him with someone. Love is like a lighthouse that watches storms, but remains as it is. Love gives direction to lovers in their tough times as the Pole Star gives direction to the roaming ships when they lose their ways. Love is the Pole Star whose values can not be measured, but height is considered. Love does not come under the range of cruel time which is similar to a farmer who cuts crops with the help of a circular pattern of the sickle. Time destroys the physical beauty of rosy lips and cheeks, but true love does not change with time. Love remains the same till the last day of life or judgment day. The poet concludes this sonnet with a challenge. He claims if he is proved wrong,  he has not written any poems or nobody has ever loved in the world.

Multiple Choice Questions

1. “It is the star to every wandering bark”-Here the word ‘bark’ stands for

a)Ship b)Time c) the poor d) humanity

2. In Sonnet 116 the poet tells about –

(a) his identity (b)ideal love (c) life (d)his writing

3. In Sonnet 116, True love is –

(a) Constant and immortal (b) changeable (c) feelings for a few moments (d)passion

4. William Shakespeare says that Love lasts till–

(a) the lovers become dull in expressing their feelings (b) the edge of doom (c) the old age(d) none of these

5. Love’s not Time’s –

(a) weapon (b) Knife (c) servant (d) Fool

6. The word ‘impediments’ means …

a)Obstacles b)restrictions c) difficulties d) flight

7. The phrase ‘ever fixed mark’ refers to a …

a)the Sunlight b) the Moon c) the lighthouse d) the boatman

8. In ‘Sonnet: CXVI’ William Shakespeare compares ‘Time’ to _________.

a) an enemy b)power c)destruction d)the farmer with a sickle

9.“It (love) is an ever-fixed mark…”-The figure of speech used in this line is-

a)Simile B)Oxymoron c)Apostrophe d)Metaphor

10. What is not Love?

a)Love is not love if it alters with time. b) Love is not love if it does not alter with time. c) Love is not love if it does not alter with hours and days. d)None of these

Short Answer Type Questions

1. Why does William Shakespeare consider love as the star to the wandering bark?

Ans: According to William Shakespeare love directs the lovers when they are engulfed in the storms of life as the polestar directs the sailors who lost their way.

2. What cannot admit impediments in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116?

Ans: Shakespeare uses a metaphor comparing marriage to the love of two people who are truly in love with each other and who do not admit “impediments,”. The speaker asserts that true love lasts forever, and never changes.

3. Who can not be Time’s fool and why?

Ans: True love can not be Time’s fool as it is eternal and it remains the same till the judgment day.

4. What does William Shakespeare say in the final couplet of sonnet CXVI?

Ans: In the final couplet of sonnet CXVI,  William Shakespeare claims if his conviction about true love is wrong,

he never wrote anything and no one ever loved. The final couplet confirms to the readers what the poet has said throughout the sonnet as Shakespeare is a writer and people have loved him before.

5. What is referred to as the ‘edge of doom’?

Ans: The word ‘edge of doom’ refers to judgment day which is the last day of life on the earth.

6. Why does Shakespeare compare love to a Pole star?

Ans: Shakespeare compares the everlasting nature of true love to the pole star, which is fixed, unyielding, and timeless and serves as an infallible guide to the wandering ships in the uncharted ocean. In the same way, the perfect love is constant and firm.

7. How many sonnets were composed by William Shakespeare?

Ans: William Shakespeare composed 154 sonnets.

8. Whom does Time’s bending sickle take under his control?

Ans: Time’s bending sickle takes the rosy lips and cheeks of human beings under his control.

9. What does not admit impediments in William Shakespeare’s sonnet CXVI?

Ans: True love of two soulmates does not admit impediments.

10. To whom does William Shakespeare compare love?

Ans: In Sonnet 116 Shakespeare compares love to a star to every wandering bark. He also compares it to an ever-fixed mark that looks on tempests and is never shaken. 

Long Answer Type Questions

1. “Love is not Time’s fool”- What is meant by this line? What is Time’s Fool and why?

Ans: By this line, William Shakespeare wants to say that love does not come under the range of bending sickle of Time.

Father Time, the personification of time, is often pictured with a sickle, which destroys the rosy lips and cheeks of the young as if it were cutting down grain, but it cannot change love. In other words, people’s outer appearances change, and they look older as time goes on, but love is not affected by these outer changes as love is unchangeable.

The rosy lips and cheeks which are manifestations of physical beauty and appearance of humans are Time’s fool as they are temporary and they disappear with time.

2. Write down a few features of ideal love according to William Shakespeare.

Ans: According to William Shakespeare ideal love has some features such as

  1. Ideal love is changeless.

  2. It is constant like a lighthouse and the Pole Star.

  3. It is priceless and permanent.

  4. It is uncontrollable by powerful Time and any force.

  5. It lasts till the last day of life.


A. Answer the following questions in 100 words:

1. How does William Shakespeare present the constancy of true love? How long does love last, according to Shakespeare?

2. How does ‘Time’ play its role in the sonnet CXVI?

3. Explain the figure of speech used in Sonnet CXVI.

4. What does William Shakespeare claim in Sonnet CXVI?

5. Why does William Shakespeare not admit impediments in true love?

6. How is ideal love presented in Sonnet 116? What is the difference between ideal love and fake love?

7. Write a few qualities that love possesses according to William Shakespeare. Why according to the poet can love not be altered?

B. Do as directed:

a. The poet said, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.”(Change the narration)

b. It is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken. (Split into two sentences)

c. Love alters not in his brief hours and weeks. (Correct the error in this sentence)

d. It is the star to every wandering bark. (Split into two sentences)


marriage-union, true minds-true soulmates, impediments-obstacle, alters-changes, alteration-change, bend-deform, remover-here it refers to someone whom a lover finds out to replace his or partner, remove-replace, ever-fixed mark-it refers to the lighthouse, looks on-watching without getting involved, tempests-storms, wandering-roaming, bark-ship, worth-value, bending sickle’s compass come-under Time’s range, edge of doom-Judgement day or Dooms day,