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ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #17:

 

 

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

If I could write of the beauty of your eyes

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come sould say "This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."

So should my papers yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage

And stretched meter of an antique song.

  But were some child of yours alive that time,

  You should live twice--in it and in my rhyme.

 

 


 

Good heavens--how lovely is this one to read aloud?  The arguing for offspring continues.  The speaker is pulling out all the stops!

 

For the poet, though, why is not the poem really enough to keep the beloved "alive"?

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Mariposa
Posts: 133
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Well, it seems clearer here than in any of the other sonnets. I recall being perplexed in an earlier sonnet if in fact Shakespeare were telling his "friend" to have children or not so he could live on. I think the final couplet makes it obvious that is what he is saying.

 

The other point that was cloudy before was whether the "immortality" of the poem would be enough to keep his "friend" alive forever, but here Shakespeare is saying that although the poem would succeed as an eternal tribute, that he wants even more than that and so, his "friend" should have a child.

 

Now for the third point: Is the "friend" male or female? And clearly this is not just a friend. Not when Shakespeare alludes to the "beauty of your eyes"! So if it were a women, would this having of a child be such a problem? No, because Shakespeare could father the child with his lover. So I tend to believe this "friend" is male, and Shakespeare is saying, for the love of me, have a child, so that your beauty, your memory will never fade. Such wonder should not fade with you. It must continue. Yes, I will write the poem, but that is not enough. You need to make the child. Please.

 

I am curious to hear other responses. This is, of course, just my humble opinion. I am no Shakespeare scholar and I have not looked at any secondary sources.

 

 

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friery
Posts: 209
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #17:

 

 

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

If I could write of the beauty of your eyes

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come sould say "This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."

So should my papers yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage

And stretched meter of an antique song.

  But were some child of yours alive that time,

  You should live twice--in it and in my rhyme.

 

 


 

This is such a lovely poem.   I thought it really exposed the soul of the poet/mentor/lover.

 

One interesting, but subtle, point shows up in line 4.  The verses go:

 

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

 

Why "our life"?  It could have been "your life," echoing "your parts." Perhaps the poet is suggesting that he and the young man have had an intimate relationship--of some sort.

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Benedict3
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

I don't see any homosexual nature to any of these sonnets.  I don't understand, after directly reading his writings, how they can be viewed that way.  But when I go to plays, including Hamlet and the actor playing the part of Hamlet portrays him as 'emotional' and not 'introspective' (there is a big difference) I can see a homosexual perspective, that stemming from the director or actor.  But I do not think that it is in the text at all, but the theater seems  to attract emotional people as well as intellectual and every combination thereof.
The text can be read as though we are looking at a mirror.  The reflection that we see is then what we describe the text as portraying when we talk with other people.  From my perspective, these sonnets are describing how it is our intellect and conscience that hides natural parts of ourselves.  But not in a bad way...  or good. 
 
"Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
and thus the native hue of relolution
is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
and enterprises of great pith and moment
with this regard their currents turn awry,
and lose the name of action..."
 
Thinking, concsience stops the flow that starts in the mement and would lead to action if not prevented by 'thinking'.  It is the 'thinking' conscience that prevents our natural self from acting directly, then after blocking the actions that would have come naturally, it becomes the source of the actions that are then acted out.  The distinction between our would be natural actions and the actions that we make because of thought is pointed to over and over again.  And one of our most natural urges seems to be a desire to last forever.  Make-up can not truly keep us young, but our genetics can last forever if we have kids.  I don't see anything homosexual in that.
 

friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #17:

 

 

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

If I could write of the beauty of your eyes

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come sould say "This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."

So should my papers yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage

And stretched meter of an antique song.

  But were some child of yours alive that time,

  You should live twice--in it and in my rhyme.

 

 


 

This is such a lovely poem.   I thought it really exposed the soul of the poet/mentor/lover.

 

One interesting, but subtle, point shows up in line 4.  The verses go:

 

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

 

Why "our life"?  It could have been "your life," echoing "your parts." Perhaps the poet is suggesting that he and the young man have had an intimate relationship--of some sort.


 

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DylanMeeks
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

We have been discussing how the person Shakespeare is speaking of may be male, because if it were a woman, bearing a child would not be a problem. Although a homosexual relationship could be possible, here is another idea that we could consider. What if his female subject of this poem is already married and refusing to have children by denying her husband because she is in love with Shakespeare. Or what if the female subject is unmarried, but from a different class than Shakespeare that would make society look down upon the imprudent marriage. I am still not completely convinced that the subject of the poem is male, although I do not rule out the possibility.

 

As for the question of why the poem is not enough, it is often said that art is imitation of life. The poem, which is an art form, would be a mere imitation of the subject's beauty; however, the subject's child would be a living proof of the subject's beauty that will give credence to the poet's words. As the poem ages and as people no longer have visible proof of the subject's beauty through a descendent, the poem becomes less and less believable, and those who have no visible proof of that beauty will begin to believe it is simply a legend or a myth, because nothing exists but a single poem speaking of a long-gone individual's beauty. A descendant and many more descendant's will prolong the subject's beautiful life even after a physical death. The poem will put that beauty to words, but a child will bring those words to life.

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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


DylanMeeks wrote:

We have been discussing how the person Shakespeare is speaking of may be male, because if it were a woman, bearing a child would not be a problem. Although a homosexual relationship could be possible, here is another idea that we could consider. What if his female subject of this poem is already married and refusing to have children by denying her husband because she is in love with Shakespeare. Or what if the female subject is unmarried, but from a different class than Shakespeare that would make society look down upon the imprudent marriage. I am still not completely convinced that the subject of the poem is male, although I do not rule out the possibility.

 

As for the question of why the poem is not enough, it is often said that art is imitation of life. The poem, which is an art form, would be a mere imitation of the subject's beauty; however, the subject's child would be a living proof of the subject's beauty that will give credence to the poet's words. As the poem ages and as people no longer have visible proof of the subject's beauty through a descendent, the poem becomes less and less believable, and those who have no visible proof of that beauty will begin to believe it is simply a legend or a myth, because nothing exists but a single poem speaking of a long-gone individual's beauty. A descendant and many more descendant's will prolong the subject's beautiful life even after a physical death. The poem will put that beauty to words, but a child will bring those words to life.


 

Thanks to Dylan and others in the thread contemplating the speaker and addressee of these poems.  It's certainly an interesting question that has puzzled Shakespearean scholars for generations!

 

So interesting, too!

 

Dylan--I'm wondering if the poet or speaker would see the poem as even superior to the real thing, since art is so important to most artists, "immortal" when the subject is not?

~ConnieAnnKirk




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Author
ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

[ Edited ]

And, so now, we finally reach...

 

 

Sonnet #18:

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art move lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.

  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Message Edited by ConnieK on 08-18-2009 10:59 AM
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Correspondent
friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #17:

 

 

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

If I could write of the beauty of your eyes

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come sould say "This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."

So should my papers yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage

And stretched meter of an antique song.

  But were some child of yours alive that time,

  You should live twice--in it and in my rhyme.

 

 


 

Good heavens--how lovely is this one to read aloud?  The arguing for offspring continues.  The speaker is pulling out all the stops!

 

For the poet, though, why is not the poem really enough to keep the beloved "alive"?

 

 


 

One answer to your question is that Shakespeare may not have expected his writings to have the permanence that they've had.  This was certainly true of his plays--they were written to be performed, sometimes only once.  We can thank chance and a couple of his good friends for the fact they were preserved.  The sonnets weren't published in quarto form until 1609.  Shakespeare was by then 54 years old, and had only 7 years left on this earth.  So, as a practical matter, when he wrote the sonnets, he may not have expected much of an audience or much of a life for the poems. 
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Mariposa
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Dylan, I replied to your post yesterday in regard to Sonnet #17, but somehow it disappeared. So now to repeat.

 

I think your post was wonderful. It thoughtfully challenged my interpretation. Thank you. Now I am looking again at the poems with new understandings. Both your points are well-taken.

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friery
Posts: 209
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

 

And, so now, we finally reach...

 

 

Sonnet #18:

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.

  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

 


 

From perfection, to decline and death, to eternal preservation.

 

All in only 14 lines.

Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


friery wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #17:

 

 

Who will believe my verse in time to come

If it were filled with your most high deserts?

Though yet, heaven knows, it is but as a tomb

Which hides our life and shows not half your parts.

If I could write of the beauty of your eyes

And in fresh numbers number all your graces,

The age to come sould say "This poet lies;

Such heavenly touches ne'er touched earthly faces."

So should my papers yellowed with their age,

Be scorned, like old men of less truth than tongue,

And your true rights be termed a poet's rage

And stretched meter of an antique song.

  But were some child of yours alive that time,

  You should live twice--in it and in my rhyme.

 

 


 

Good heavens--how lovely is this one to read aloud?  The arguing for offspring continues.  The speaker is pulling out all the stops!

 

For the poet, though, why is not the poem really enough to keep the beloved "alive"?

 

 


 

One answer to your question is that Shakespeare may not have expected his writings to have the permanence that they've had.  This was certainly true of his plays--they were written to be performed, sometimes only once.  We can thank chance and a couple of his good friends for the fact they were preserved.  The sonnets weren't published in quarto form until 1609.  Shakespeare was by then 54 years old, and had only 7 years left on this earth.  So, as a practical matter, when he wrote the sonnets, he may not have expected much of an audience or much of a life for the poems. 

 

I know what you mean, friery, but when you look at Sonnet #18--the last line--the speaker is clearly seeing the poem has captured the subject in a way that is more immortal.  A poet understands this, I think.  It might not depend on whether or not there are readers of the poem.  Maybe all the sonnets leading up to #18 were a development of this idea, and #18 is the notion's 'epiphany.'  Maybe?
~ConnieAnnKirk




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DylanMeeks
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Thank you to Mariposa for your kind words. And Fiery, excellent interpretation of the previous sonnet!

 

 

This sonnet is quoted a lot, and reading it in it's entirety again I can see why. How, well, "poetic" to be compared to a summer's day. It's bitter-sweet. A summer's day is beautiful and fresh, as Shakespeare clearer sees the person he is speaking to now. However, even the beauty of summer fades as time begins to take its toll, and that beauty fades as it ages and the freshness begins to decay. Definitely Shakespeare is still concerned about the future and further encourages a more permanent beauty.

 

However, it seems as if Shakespeare has almost resigned himself to the idea that the person may never have children and now believes the poem will be sufficient as long as it is read. I'm not sure though. What do you guys think?

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Benedict3
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

The growing of man-kind in general.
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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


Benedict3 wrote:
The growing of man-kind in general.

 

Hi, Benedict--For #18?  Could you elaborate a bit more for us?
~ConnieAnnKirk




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ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sonnet #19:

 

 

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws

And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;

Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's [jaws,]

And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;

Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet'st

And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,

To the wide world and all her fading sweets.

But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:

O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,

Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;

Him in thy course untainted do allow

For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.

   Yet do thy worst, old Time; despite thy wrong,

   My love shall in my verse ever live young.

 

 

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

And, so now, we finally reach...

 

 

Sonnet #18:

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art move lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.

  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


 

 

I've always read this poem one way--that the poem itself will 'preserve' the subject and give him/her the immortality s/he cannot have in real life--at least, so long as the poem itself survives. 

 

Is there another way to read it?  I'd love to hear another interpretation!

~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
Posts: 5,472
Registered: ‎06-14-2007
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

ConnieK wrote:

And, so now, we finally reach...

 

 

Sonnet #18:

 

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art move lovely and more temperate.

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date.

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimmed;

And every fair from fair sometimes declines,

By chance or nature's changing course untrimmed.

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,

Nor shall Death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st.

  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


 

 

I've always read this poem one way--that the poem itself will 'preserve' the subject and give him/her the immortality s/he cannot have in real life--at least, so long as the poem itself survives. 

 

Is there another way to read it?  I'd love to hear another interpretation!


 

Would the speaker call being 'preserved' within a poem, heaven?  I guess there's no suggestion of that here, though, no religious connection m'thinks.  Hmm...
~ConnieAnnKirk




[CAK's books , website.]
Correspondent
friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #19:

 

 

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws

And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;

Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's [jaws,]

And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;

Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet'st

And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,

To the wide world and all her fading sweets.

But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:

O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,

Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;

Him in thy course untainted do allow

For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.

   Yet do thy worst, old Time; despite thy wrong,

   My love shall in my verse ever live young.

 

 


 

Have we had any animals mentioned in the earlier sonnetsCertainly, not this many--lion, tiger, phoenix (mythological, of course).

 

"[T]he earth devour her own sweet brood" in line 2 recalls Saturn, who devoured his childrenPer Wikipedia:

 

According to Roman myth, it had been foretold that one of the sons of Saturn would overthrow him, just as he had overthrown his father, Caelus. To prevent this coming to pass, Saturn would eat each of his children as soon as they were born. His wife Ops eventually hid his sixth son, Jupiter, on the island of Crete, deceiving Saturn by offering a stone wrapped in swaddling in his place. Just as the prophecy had predicted, Jupiter eventually supplanted his father.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_Devouring_His_SonThere's a spectacular painting by Goya of this myth in the Prado in Madrid. 

 

Isn't the structure of this sonnet unusualInstead of the customary Shakespearean three-quatrain, one couplet form, we seem to have a 7-5-2 structure. 

 

Note the use of the word "sweet(s)," which we've seen in earlier sonnets.  (Lines 2 and 7.)   Ditto the word "fair" in line 9.

 

"Swift-footed Time" sounds very much like a Homeric epithetHomer called Achilles "swift-footed." 

 

It's ironic that Shakespeare calls carving lines of age on the youth "a most heinous crime."  After all, that's the most natural occurrence of time--along with deathThe events that are described in the first four lines, such as the earth devouring her young, are very much more unnatural, and thus morally heinous. 

 

I've read that the word "antique" (line 10) may have been indistinguishable in Shakespeare's time from the word "antic."  The latter word has the residual meaning of "mad" or "madness."  So, Time is not just inexorable, it's mad--hence the unnatural acts described in the first four lines. 

 

Notice the double negative in line 10: "Nor draw no lines..."

 

Helen Vendler points out that the poet describes the youth in terms of a Platonic ideal in the phrase "beauty's pattern."  Note also the phrase "My love" that the poet uses to describe the youth in the next-to-last line. Do we still have any questions about the relationship between those two?

 

Isn't the rhyme in the concluding couplet jarringI suppose the words "wrong" and "young" may have been pronounced the same in Elizabethan timesBeside the odd (to our ears) sound, it's jarring and discordant for Shakespeare to contrast "thy wrong" and "live young" in the last two lines. 

 

Finally, this sonnet contains the ultimate challenge by art and artists--to tell Time "I forbid thee."  That may just about sum up the role of an artist.

 

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friery
Posts: 209
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Lions and Tigers and Phoenixes, Oh My!


ConnieK wrote:

Sonnet #19:

 

 

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws

And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;

Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's [jaws,]

And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;

Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet'st

And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,

To the wide world and all her fading sweets.

But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:

O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,

Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;

Him in thy course untainted do allow

For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.

   Yet do thy worst, old Time; despite thy wrong,

   My love shall in my verse ever live young.

 

 


 

Here's an excerpt from Twelfth Night that has an interesting parallel to the animals mentioned in Sonnet No. 19:

 

 

Orsino, this is that Antonio
That took the Phoenix and her fraught from Candy;
And this is he that did the Tiger board,
When your young nephew Titus lost his leg:
Here in the streets, desperate of shame and state,
In private brabble did we apprehend him.

 

Act 5.1.56-61.
Author
ConnieAnnKirk
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Re: Shakespeare's Sonnets


friery wrote:

Sonnet #19:

 

 

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws

And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;

Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's [jaws,]

And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;

Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet'st

And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,

To the wide world and all her fading sweets.

But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:

O, carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,

Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;

Him in thy course untainted do allow

For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.

   Yet do thy worst, old Time; despite thy wrong,

   My love shall in my verse ever live young.

 

 


 

Have we had any animals mentioned in the earlier sonnetsCertainly, not this many--lion, tiger, phoenix (mythological, of course).

 


"Devouring Time"; "swift-footed Time" -- interesting comparison of Time to wild animals.  Yet, Time is also an artist/writer--"draw no lines there with thy antique pen." 

~ConnieAnnKirk




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