The Little Love-God (Sonnet - 154) by Shakespeare

The little Love-god lying once asleep
Laid by his side his heart-inflaming brand,
Whilst many nymphs that vowed chaste life to keep
Came tripping by; but in her maiden hand
The fairest votary took up that fire
Which many legions of true hearts had warm’d;
And so the General of hot desire
Was, sleeping, by a virgin hand disarm’d.
This brand she quenched in a cool well by,
Which from Love's fire took heat perpetual,
Growing a bath and healthful remedy
For men diseased; but I, my mistress' thrall,
Came there for cure; and this by that I prove,
Love's fire heats water, water cools not love.

About the Poet & Poem:

William Shakespeare was born at Stratford-on-Avon on 25 April 1564 and died on 23 April 1616. He was an English poet and playwright of the Renaissance in England. His poems are Venus and Adonis (1593), The Rape of Lucrece (1594), The Phoenix and the Turtle (1601) and the Sonnets (1593-1603).
Shakespearean sonnets were published in the Quarto edition of Shakespeare's Works in 16-9 by Thomas Thorpe. These sonnets are dedicated to Mr. W.H.

Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets form two groups. The first group (1-126) is addressed to a young man of matchless beauty. The second group (127-154) is addressed to a dark lady. The young man is a lovely boy. He is urged to marry and beget offspring to perpetuate his great beauty. He is of very tender age and his social position is considerably high. The poet loves both, the charming young man and the dark mistress. The dark mistress, perhaps, is a married woman as is suggested in Sonnet 152. She is seen as a bad angel who has stolen away the poet's good angel, his young friend.

The Little Love-God is a beautiful  love sonnet by Shakespeare. It is read as an epigram on Cupid. Some critics believe that it does not have any discernible connection with the sonnets of the second group. But there is no proof to sustain this view. A vision of eternal love links it with the second group. Cupid, the son of Venus, is the boy-god of love in Roman religion. The poet, in spite of betrayal considers himself a slave of his mistress, who has kept in his heart the fire of love burning. This idea has been expressed by an anecdote in which the fairest votary of Cupid takes up the burning brand and quenches it in a cool well. Love's fire perpetually heats the well. 


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