An essay on Shakespeare's 12th Sonnet.

Essay by thedolphinscryUniversity, Master'sA, April 2004

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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 silvered 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 defence

14. Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

This sonnet is so famous that it almost makes commentary unessential. It will always be one of the best sonnets in the history of language.

The lively and rapid passage of time, which brings every thing to an end, is described, not indeed in abundance, but with such noteworthy and overwhelming effect that humanity almost stares us in the face as we read it. The logic of the lines ends with the line itself is like the ticking of a clock or the unstoppable motion of a pendulum as it swings from side to side. The importance of the placing of this sonnet here (12) (I believe it's because of the twelve hours of the day) as well as that of the 'minute' sonnet at (60) is hard to establish, but at the very least it points to an organized hand, which, like the clock itself, measures out the chain of important events as they occur. It is true, however, that it is not clear that we have...