Edmund Spenser

(1552 - 13 January 1599 / London / England)

Sonnet 54


Of this worlds theatre in which we stay,
My love like the spectator ydly sits
Beholding me that all the pageants play,
Disguysing diversly my troubled wits.
Sometimes I joy when glad occasion fits,
And mask in myrth lyke to a comedy:
Soone after when my joy to sorrow flits,
I waile and make my woes a tragedy.
Yet she, beholding me with constant eye,
Delights not in my merth nor rues my smart:
But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry
She laughs and hardens evermore her heart.
What then can move her? if nor merth nor mone,
She is no woman, but a senceless stone.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Veteran Poet - 4,231 Points Savita Tyagi (7/28/2014 7:40:00 AM)

    This poem reminds me of ancient Upanishadic lore of two birds on a tree. While one our outer self enjoys all the fruits of pain and pleasure our soul looks on be holding us calm and quiet. Ancients wrote with reverence about nature's play. Spencer finds same play frustrating. Enjoyed this version too. closer to our reality! (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 2,843 Points Pranab K Chakraborty (7/28/2012 9:48:00 PM)

    Fantastic catastrophe for ever-defeated lover of an unknown zone. Really unique the inference taken by oneself after a long process of waiting, expecting nearness every time and ultimate gatherance of frustrating postulation....SHE IS NO WOMAN, BUT A SENSELESS STONE.......................................Pranab k chakraborty...29/07/2012 (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (7/28/2011 9:12:00 AM)

    The narrator sits in a theater watching himself play various roles on the stage. Which we all do at one time or another, don't we? Our perception of ourself varies from day to day, hour to hour even, as our mood shifts from joy or pleasure to woe or unhappiness - it all depends, don't you see? The observant woman 'beholds him with constant eye, ' she sees him straight on and is not subject to his fits or moods or self-delusions. Like some men, or most men, the speaker senses her clear-eyed vision and resents her for what he sees as her hardness of heart. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Terence George Craddock (7/28/2010 12:08:00 PM)

    Yet she, beholding me with constant eye,
    Delights not in my merth nor rues my smart:
    But when I laugh she mocks, and when I cry
    She laughs and hardens evermore her heart.

    He had already gained her attention, seems she just wanted him to bat up and be a man. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Joey Valenzuela (7/28/2010 1:33:00 AM)

    this poem is an expression of a man who assumed that the woman cannot love him.........
    assumption.....maybe because he can't tell her.......

    he's like me....poor man.....haha (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 13 Points Ravi A (7/28/2009 10:31:00 AM)

    'All the world is a stage'. This is not gender reversal but life itself. When we laugh, life will force us to cry. Life will do only the opposite to our desires and deeds. Spencer has beautifully outlined this aspect here. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (7/28/2009 5:40:00 AM)

    The gender reversal is interesting here. The man feeling, the woman scorning him. I do not know, but I doubt if Spenser ever had a relationship like this. But the poem is 'real', even if it is a fiction. (Report) Reply

    Rookie Nerys Williams (7/8/2014 2:09:00 PM)

    His second wife (Elizabeth Boyle) couldn't stand him so it looks like he did

  • Rookie Hannah P (7/28/2006 6:37:00 PM)

    i like that poem. or sonnet, i should say.
    it is similar to my poem, Girl with a pearl earring, based on the painting. (Report) Reply

Read all 14 comments »

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