When in disgrace
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When in Disgrace. By William Shakespeare. 9 th Grade, English. Background Information. William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, He is often called England's national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.

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When in Disgrace

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When in disgrace

When in Disgrace

By William Shakespeare

9th Grade, English

Background information

Background Information

  • William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, He is often called England's national poet and the “Bard of Avon”.

  • In Shakespeare’s works ‘Love’ is shown as a prime human need.

  • Shakespeare is well-known for his great plays. King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet, Julius Caesar etc.,

  • Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, 154 sonnets and a few poems. The sonnet given here is sonnet 29.

  • The first eight lines which develop one thought is popularly called as “Octave” and then there is a turn and the second part comprising six lines called the “Sestet” , completes the poem.

When in disgrace1

When in Disgrace

“When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state”

When I have lost good name with fortune and men, I weep over my position as a social outcast,

When in disgrace

“And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries

And look upon myself and curse my fate, “

I pray to heaven but my cries go unheard. I look at myself and curse the fate in which I find myself.

When in disgrace

“Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,

Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,”

I wish I could be a person with more hope, better looks and who has more friends

When in disgrace

“Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,

With what I most enjoy contented least”

I desire to possess skills and power of somebody else and I am never content with what I have

When in disgrace

“Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,

Haply I think on thee, and then my state, “

While I am hating myself with all these thoughts,

by chance, I think of you

When in disgrace

“Like to the lark at break of day arising

From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate”

My heart soars with happiness like the lark who rises up from the Earth at dawn to sing praises to the Lord

When in disgrace

“For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings. “

Thinking of your love brings such happiness that I would not trade my position in life with kings.

The poem summary

The Poem - Summary

  • In the first octet of the poem( 8 lines) , the speaker is in a state of depression.

  • In the next 6 lineshowever, the speaker describes the effect , the thought of his love has, on hisemotional state.

    I am the happiestperson in the world !!

Thought of your love

Sad to be a social outcast 



Answer the following questions in a sentence or two each,

  • The poet says he laments alone. When does he do so.? Why?

    The poet says that he laments alone when he feels that he has lost the favourof both fortune and fellow men. He laments because he feels that he is a social outcast.

  • The poet says he appeals to god for help. Does he get it? How do you know?

    When the poet appeals to God for help , he does not get it. He uses the words deaf heaven which indicate that God was deaf to his appeals.

  • Does the poet accept his situation and console himself.? What does he do?

    The poet does not accept his situation. He looks upon himself and curses his own fate and wishes that things were different.

    4)What things does he wish for?

    The poet wishes for more hope, better looks, more friends, more skills and freedom to do things he enjoys as he sees in other men.

Read the following lines and answer the questions

Read the followinglines and answer the questions:

  • “Yet in these thoughts almost despising ,

    Haply I think on thee” -

    a)What thoughts does the word ‘these’ refer to? – It refers to the depression that the poet endures. The poet looks at himself and curses his fate. He wishes that he were better.

    b) What effect do these thoughts have on the poet?

    These thoughts made the poet hate himself.

    c)What does the poet do then?

    When he feels so low, he thinks about the person he loves.

  • “From sullen earth sings hymns at heaven’s gate”

    • Who signs hymns at heaven’s gate? – The lark

    • When does he do so?When the sun rises

    • Why does the poet say these lines? The poet says that when he thinks about the person he loves, his state was similar to that of a lark, wanting to sing praises on day break. Hence he says these lines.

Read the following lines and answer the questions1

Read the followinglines and answer the questions:

3)“Then I scorn to change my state with kings”

a)When does the poet want to feel so?

When he thinks about the his love, he refuses to trade his place with the kings.

b) Why does the poet want to feel so?

When he thinks about the wealth and happiness , his love brings him, he refuses to trade his place for the kings.

c)Whose love does the poet value so much?

The love of his beloved.

Answer the following in two or three sentences each

Answer the following in two or three sentences each

This sonnet can be read in two parts. Where does the second part begin? Write briefly about the thought that gets developed in the first part and how it gets modified in the second part.

The second part begins when the poet thinks about the person he loves so dearly.

In the first part, the poet feels that he is not fortunate in life. He feels isolated socially and prays to God but his cries are unheard. He looks at himself and feels discontented. He wishes to have better looks and richer hopes. He compares with other men and wishes that he has more freedom and skill and more friends as the others.

In the second part, however, the poet is reminded of his love and his spirit rose high like a lark. His sweet love reminded him of all wealth and happiness it offers . The poet then feels happiest and declined to trade his place with the King.

Write a brief essay about the importance of love as exemplified in this poem

Write a briefessay about the importance of « Love «  as exemplified in thispoem

In this poem , Love is signified as a the only desirable object in the world. The poet feels that love is much more valuable than all the friends or better looks or skill. The poet refused to be a king , if it means losing his love. Thus love is signified much higher than the king of the land.

When the poet writes a simile with the lark , he illustrates the happiness and joy the heart feels in the thought of his love. Love is so strong that the misery and agony endured by the poet in his ordinary life is all but gone.

Answer the following in a short paragraph

Answer the following in a short paragraph

  • The Poet gives vent to his personal feelings in this poem. “There is nothing new here. Sometimes we also feel like that”. Do you agree with this statement. Give reasons.

    The poet vents his personal feelings. But the newer thing here is that, it applies to others as well. Any person can relate to the author’s position and it is unique in that perspective.

    2) Do you like the poem? Give reasons,

    Yes, I like the poem a lot. The initial hatred and the love for himself towards the end, is an interesting writing. The imagery with the lark is also fascinating .

  • Pick out the rhyming words in the poem and write briefly about its rhyme pattern or scheme.

    State/fate , eyes/cries, hope/scope, despising/arising, state/gate, brings/kings . The rhyme scheme is ‘ababcdcdefefgg’.

    4) The poet uses the imagery of lark to describe his state of mind. What figure of speech is it?


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