“Sonnet 12”
William Shakespeare
(1) When I do count the clock that tells the time,
(2) And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
(3) When I behold the violet past prime,
(4) And sable curls all silver’d o’er with white;
(5) When lofty trees I see barren of leaves
(6) Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
(7) And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
(8) Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
(9) Then of thy beauty do I question make,
(10) That thou among the wastes of time must go,
(11) Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
(12) And die as fast as they see others grow;
(13) And nothing ‘gainst Time’s scythe can make defense
(14) Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.
William Shakespeare is widely considered the greatest dramatist of all time. Over the course of 20 years, Shakespeare wrote plays that capture the complete range of human emotion and conflict.  His earliest plays were written in the conventional style of the day, using elaborate metaphors and rhetorical phrases that didn’t always match the context of the play. However, he always managed to add his own flair to his work. His sonnets are beautifully written, but they can’t measure up to the brilliance of his plays. Romeo and Juliet often takes the title of his most popular play, but the content of the play itself does not even begin to match that of Hamlet.
Poetic Technique

Sonnet: a poem of fourteen lines using any of a number of formal rhyme schemes, in English typically having ten syllables per line.

A sonnet typically consists of three quatrains and a final couplet. These last two couplets usually rhyme, and in “Sonnet 12,” it is no exception. The typical Shakespeare sonnet consists of Iambic Pentameter, which is the type of stressed syllables in a line. The poem also consists of ten syllables per line.
Analyzing any poetry of Shakespeare is daunting, but I will nonetheless try my best. My first read-through of this poem rendered me speechless, and I was, for a moment, shocked. The imagery and language are so deliberate and articulate that it immediately inspires a scene to grow in your head. Lines 4 and 5 try to show a passing of time, with “sable curls all silver’d o’er with white” meant to represent the changing of hair color with age. 
This poem is mainly about the ability to outsmart and outlive death, and taking the necessary means to do so. In this case, it would be to have children that would “brave” death, or really, face him again in your honor. By having children, you are successfully ensuring a continuing to your legacy. They will in time, face death again, and they will do so in your image.
Sonnet 12 can also be a representation of the fragility and pain of age. By aging, one is deteriorating, and certain things become impossible to do. We can not overcome death and time, and we can not control it. However, we try to. We have surgeries to make us look young. We have products to reduce wrinkles. We have makeup to cover up flaws. We have hair color. We take age and redefine it. Together as a society, we have decided that showing one’s aging through time is unacceptable. Instead of embracing and welcoming time’s effects, we mean to cover them. We have successfully beaten time in that case. However, death is inevitable, and it’s not something we can easily cover up. Throughout a person’s life, time and age are stripped of meaning. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, death comes, and not a single person is ready for it. The sad thing is that it is our own fault.
Sonnet 12 visual
Visual Explanation
The above visual is a representation of one type of interpretation. This sculpture is made of dried flowers; they are the victims of time’s wrath. Their original, exquisite beauty, is rendered useless now, and their beauty is redefined at their “passing.” Instead of these flowers rotting into the ground and never appreciated again, their fragility at this point is turned into a sculpture. Various flowers are used, but the point remains simple: the fragility of time is unrelenting. If you even barely pushed on this sculpture, it would collapse. Ergo, the fragility of the passing of time is contextualized. We, as humans, cannot control time, but in this case, we can control its effects.

2 thoughts on “Sonnet

  1. Not only have you done a remarkable job with the analysis of this sonnet, you have also completed one of the most impressive poetry projects of any student whom I’ve ever had in class. This is a work of art for which you are to be commended for your most articulate and fluent analysis of rather difficult poems. Bravo to you for accepting the challenge of this project and for shining ever so brightly throughout the project.

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