The way William Shakespeare writes and phrases the English words can be really weird at times, but I think I understand what he is talking about. The word “heavy” suggests that the rider is sad to be on this journey because of the destination that he or she is riding towards. This is because when he gets to this destination, he will be miles away from his friend. The “beast”, also known as the rider’s horse, is tired and affected by the rider’s sadness. The horse also has to keep moving slowly, while bearing the weight of the rider and his sad emotions. Sadness is most of the time depicted to being heavy because when a person is sad, he or she tends to feel down and more sluggish when moving around or doing things. In contrast, a happy person normally has a spring in her or his step and happily jumping around doing stuff. The narrator also suggests that the horse feels the rider’s pain and does not want to speed up and be further away from his friend. Even when the rider uses his or her spur to poke the horse to go faster, the horse just groans and does not move faster. The spur is more “sharp” or hurtful to the rider because it reminds him that the further he goes, the closer he is to the “grief” destination and further away from “joy”.
How heavy do I journey on the way,
When what I seek, my weary travel’s end,
Doth teach that case and that repose to say,
“Thus far the miles are measured from thy friend!”
The beast that bears me, tired with my woe,
Plods dully on, to bear that weight in me,
As if by some instinct the wretch did know
His rider loved not speed being made from thee.
The bloody spur cannot provoke him on
That sometimes anger thrusts into his hide,
Which heavily he answers with a groan,
More sharp to me than spurring to his side;
For that same groan doth put this in my mind:
My grief lies onward and my joy behind.