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William Shakespeare. Sonnet 60. Sonnet 60.
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William Shakespeare Sonnet 60
Sonnet 60 a Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,b So do our minutes hasten to their end;a Each changing place with that which goes before,b In sequent toil all forwards do contend.c Nativity, once in the main of light,d Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,c Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,d And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.e Time doth transfix the flourish set on youthf And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,e Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,f And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:g And yet to times in hope, my verse shall standg Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
Problem/Solution Pattern • The problem is that time passes relentlessly, human life is short, and time is the destroyer of human life. • The solution is that despite Time’s cruel hand, the poet’s verse will live on and continue to praise the youth’s worth. The poem will immortalise the youth and allow his beauty to live forever, regardless of the passage of time.
Quatrain 1 • Quatrain 1 is about the passage of time and uses the tide as a metaphor. Just as waves cycle forward and replace one another on the beach, so do minutes struggle forward in sequent toil.
Quatrain 2 • Quatrain 2 is about the passage of human life and uses the sun during the span of a day as a metaphor: • The sun crawls forward out of the sea • The sun is crowned with maturity in the sky • The sun is darkened by the crooked eclipses of age
Quatrain 3 • Quatrain 3 is about time as a ravaging monster responsible for the ravages in human life.
Line I “Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,” Analysis: Like the way in which the waves move towards the pebbled shore
Line II “So do our minutes hasten to their end;” Analysis: The imagery is of the disappearance and dissipation of each wave as it beats on the shore. The waves are a simile of human life in that human life has an ending. The individual waves mimic the disappearance of the “minutes” (of human life).
Line III “Each changing place with that which goes before,” Analysis: Waves appear to change place with each other. As one rolls away, another takes its place.
Line IV “In sequent toil all forwards do contend.” Analysis: In sequent toil suggests labour in a regular sequence, and perhaps the harshness of life’s journey. The waves march forward to contend, or fight, as lines of troops do in a battle.
Line V “Nativity, once in the main of light,” Analysis: A human life is compared to the sun. Nativity means birth so a new born child is implied. The main refers to the sea, and being in the main implies being in the open sea. In the main of light is therefore in the open sea of light, where the light of the sun is most bright.
Line VI “Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,” Analysis: The youth crawls upward toward noon (the “crown” of “maturity”). The sun is the hottest and brightest at noon.
Line VII “Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,” Analysis: The life is suddenly undone by crooked eclipses, which fight against the sun’s glory. Eclipses were considered dangerous events that brought bad luck. An eclipse is also the struggle of darkness against light, where the darkness fights against the glory of the sun, but figuratively against the glory of youth.
Line VIII “And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.” Analysis: Time’s gift is life itself , but Time will inevitably destroy life.
Line IX “Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth” Analysis: Time is the enemy that cuts down and destroys all things that are beautiful. Time destroys the glory of youth.
Line X “And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,” Analysis: Delves the parallels means digs the furrows. Parallels were defensive ditches used in warfare. These lines (parallels) are compared to the wrinkles which line the forehead as “beauty” grows older.
Line XI “Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,” Analysis: Time is a monster that feeds on nature’s beauty.
Line XII “And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:” Analysis: Nothing exists that Time’s scythe cannot destroy. Time and Death were portrayed carrying a scythe.
Line XIII “And yet to times in hope, my verse shall stand” Analysis: My verse, as a beacon of hope, will stand against time, both now, and in the future.
Line XIV “Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.” Analysis: The poet will use art to praise the beauty of the youth, despite Time’s cruel hand. Line 14 is the only direct reference to the youth.
Poetic Devices • Simile – “Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, / So do our minutes hasten to their end” (1-2). • Personification – “Crawls to maturity” (6). • Alliteration – “Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d, / Crooked” (6-7). • Personification – “His gift” (8). • Personification – “Beauty’s brow” (10). • Personification – Time “feeds” (11). • Personification – “His cruel hand” (14).