Friday, 9 October 2015

Sonnet 3

The third of the procreation Sonnets, Sonnet 3 assumes a food-for –thought approach much unlike the almost desperate imploring employed in the first two. Instead of descriptions like before, Shakespeare seeks to use an ‘authentic’ image as perceived by the ‘Fair Youth’. “Look in thy glass,” the persona says. Can one really deny what they see for themselves? Also for the first time it seems the poet wants to know what the subject thinks of themselves. Does he/she think he/she is worth reproducing? Even the reader would be excited for this moment, the moment to find out whether its mere flattery from Shakespeare or the subject really does look as good as afore described.

Use of the word “Now” in line 2 sort of gives everything that follows a commanding edge, almost like a command for a resolution to be reached. It makes it look like the poet has some sort of hold over the subject. It was persuasion all along but the stakes have changed or have they as the word “should” sort of gives the impression of a matter far from resolution, does he even know that more encouragement is required?

An interesting theme surfaces in line 3,reproduction is a freshening of an image. Much like updating an ‘application’ on one’s mobile phone in modern context. Almost as if to say from generation to generation it is only one life being constantly updated or upgraded.

Some irony in line 4, it sounds like the poet is saying virginity is blessing “unbless some mother” and yet the unblessing of some mother is supposed to bring into the world quite possibly the most beautiful creature ever. The ending of the first quatrain best illustrates the ending to an argument or presentation, a closing plea, command : Fair Youth please do unbless some mother, quite simply the climax of emotion turned into a submission.

The use of the word “For” in line 5 serves to highlight a continuation and that coupled with alliteration in, “ whose weared womb,” serves to augment the rhythmic flow to the poem. In addition to that, the alliteration also seems to bring out the imploring voice of the persona. Where is a ‘companion’ (if the Fair Youth is female and womb becomes metaphor for reproduction) whose own part in consummating this union would ruin the beauty, “disdains the tillage of thy husbandry.” If it is indeed what it seems at face value, that the Fair Youth is male, Shakespeare, on a purely literal level answers probably the greatest question weighing on the subject’s mind. ‘Will my offspring be as beautiful, as ravishing, as angelic as me?’ A subtle yet clear ‘Yes’ from the poet.

It is also worth noting how in line 6 the persona seamlessly manages to incorporate the image of rearing seeds in the agricultural context as a blue-print to what he is asking for from the Fair Youth.

Once again, the poet changes tactics; instead of looking at the present or what the future may hold; he speaks of the past, “Thou art thy mother’s glass and she in thee.” Just like in line 1 and Sonnet 1 and 2, looking at the offspring that has been advocated for so much will be much like a mirror. A mirror to one’s April of youth ( when one did blossom, when one lived their prime, when one looked their best or when one felt at their best). Years of aging reduced to “windows” to look through. In that time when “wrinkles” thy face afflicts; you will have living testament of your ‘golden years.’

The concluding couplet, unlike the two Sonnets before is delivered in a slightly submissive way. The kind of tone that echoes ‘the choice is yours.’ “Die single and thy image dies with thee,” that is quite simply the whole Sonnet summarised in one line. Will you decide to be selfish or give the world memory of thee?

Contrary to popular belief, at no point does Shakespeare reference himself as a suitor as he constantly oscillates from describing the Fair Youth as male or female. He is merely an advisor advocating for the world’s needs. Hero of his own work? Subtly blowing his own horn?