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Sonnet 60

William Shakespeare
Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd, Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight, And Time that gave doth now his gift confound. Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth And delves the parallels in beauty's brow, Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth, And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow: And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand, Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand. –William Shakespeare

TITLE

•The word minutes in Line 2 and the number of the sonnet, 60, suggest that life passes
like the 60 minutes in an hour.

THEME •The poem makes part of Shakespeare’s 154 Sonnets making part of the Fair Youth
sequence where the poet expresses love towards a mysterious beloved. •The poem tries to explain the nature of time as it passes and acts on human life, although a young man stands for a while in the bright sunlight of youth, advancing age will soon appear as a cloud that hides the sun. Wrinkles will appear and infirmities will develop. Eventually, death–with its scythe–will come to reap its harvest. . •The poem exalts the power of poetry as being able to stand the test of time and defeat that which destroys men’s lives – time.

TONE

•The tone changes from defeated to angry to triumphant as the theme of the poem
develops.

DICTION

•The words chosen by Shakespeare such as toil, transfix, fight, contend, glory, confound,
and scythe all hint at a violent conflict to which the speaker finds himself irreversibly attached.

•In the couplet the poet says his verse (poem) will survive the passage of time and continue praising the person to whom the poem is addressed despite the cruelty of time. ‘Nativity’. RESPONSE •What do you think of Shakespeare’s description of time? •Do you feel that the ‘verse’ can triumph over time? . STRUCTURE •Sonnet 60 displays the traditional characteristics of a Shakespearean sonnet—three quatrains and a couplet written in iambic pentameter with an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme. •Each section of the poem offers new insight and content. •In the second quatrain the poem describes human life in time by comparing it to the sun. crawling towards ‘maturity’ towards old age ‘crooked elipses’. gobbles up nature’s beauties and mows down everything in his path with a ‘scythe’. •In the third stanza time is personified as a destructive monster which destroys the ‘flourish of youth’.IMAGERY •In the first quatrain the metaphor is that of a tide where the minutes replace one another like the waves on ‘pebbled shore’. From birth.