Sonnet 29 by Shakespeare
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.
The poem shows the transitions of the speaker's mental state. By analyzing its structure, we can basically found out two major transitions of the speaker's mind from a passive despairing situation to a more active and hopeful state. The poem mainly can be divided into three levels (each includes 4 lines) and one conclusion at the end. I color some important words in order to show the differences between each level and the change of the speaker's mental state.
The first four lines show us the first level of the speaker's spiritual situation; he is in a sad and doleful condition. We can see that he describes himself "alone", his state "outcast state" and his cries "bootless cries." He feels he is alienated from the community. What he has in his present state is useless thing. He is not only isolated from the public, even his tears can't move the heaven. The heaven doesn't listen to his crying. It is a "deaf heaven." The action the speaker takes is "beweep" and "curse" that shows his helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness. He is too despair to do anything, but cries and self-blaming.
The next four lines show the first transition in the speaker's mind. By studying the change of verbs, we can see the change of his mood. The verbs (gerunds) "wishing" and "desiring" are totally different from the first four lines "beweep" and "curse". In the previous level, the speaker is very passive. However, in this level he is changed by requiring and hoping something for himself. Since he thinks that he has nothing and is deserted, he hopes that he can be another person like "one, him, man." Although his position is changed from self-blaming to establishing hope for himself, his self-identity is decreasing in the same time. He doesn't want to be himself any longer, but change into another person-any other person.
The second transition in the following four lines shows the speaker's new attitude from despairing to "despising." In this level, the speaker is more active and vivacious than before. Here we can see more positive verbs like "arising" and "sing," and the most important one "despising." Because of "thee", he can "despise" other people's treasures or possessions that he ever wants in the previous lines. He can like a "lark" fly into the sky. The self-identity increases again. His "state" is no longer "outcast". And the heaven doesn't deaf anymore, he can "sing" at its gate. Because his mood and mental state is changed, his attitude towards the outside things changed as well.
The speaker's power and self-identity increase to a highest point in the final two lines. In lines 1-8, the speaker is totally powerless and lost. Anything is more powerful and better than him. However, later on because of "thee", he can despise others. And now, because of "thy sweet love", the speaker not only has the power to despise others, but also "scorn" at the king. His "state" now is even more powerful than the king's state. No one is more superior than him. Mentally he is the most powerful and strongest person in the world.