Sunday, 3 January 2016

Sonnet 6

Sonnet 6 is so entwined with Sonnet 5 that it may seem to some that the two are meant to be one instead of appearing independently. The Sonnet furthers the constant theme of procreation alongside the Winter imagery from Sonnet 5. Winter is cast as symbolising old age and Summer symbolising youth with the two being diametrically opposed.
The first line creates the impression of a gothic, grim, evil-looking winter intent on wiping away the beauty of the Fair Youth from this world, much like death himself in pursuit of his next victim. Just like in Sonnet 5 the image of a flower represents the Fair Youth and the scent is to be distilled (making of offspring) to be preserved for when the sweet petals dry out.
"Make sweet some vial; treasure thou some place," is a plea for the Fair Youth to engage in sexual relations with some vial (woman), to make of her womb a treasure chest from which the beauty of the world is to later manifest. Or is it that the vial is the child in whose bosom and countenance beauty is to blossom. Failure to do this is tantamount to suicide, "self-killed" and yet such self-purge would probably be the worst form of narcissism considering what the world is to lose due to the remarkably stubborn nature of one individual.
One would be forced to wonder why the Fair Youth is resisting so much, what is there to be lost? Is it a hatred for children, inhibiting circumstances or quite simply a boundless sea of selfishness.
Use in this world, in this life is no crime according to Line 5 and yet nature's bounty must be paid. A payment of offspring (willing loan). Since the Fair Youth up to this point is seemingly unconvinced, Shakespeare seeks to augment his argument by employing the strength in numbers strategy. If the Fair Youth is to have ten children it would be ten times his beauty bestowed upon our world. Ten times he would have defeated the ragged winter and yet the happiness to be gained is just the same as that of having one child. It is quickly turning into somewhat of a negotiation where one asks for far more than they actually want only so as to get the other party to agree to the actual desired figure with no qualms.
Lines 11 and 12 appeal to the inner-most desire for immortality that all human beings possess, that longing to enjoy earth's fruits forever. Shakespeare proposes a way to defeat death. If the Fair Youth is to have a child it would be just like living again and thus outwitting death. The truth of that could be debated but then again there aren't many ways to defeat death so it may be best to take up whichever method presents itself.
The final couplet juxtaposes the themes of narcissism and death with one inevitably leading to the other much like fate. To make worms one's heir is probably the least desirable fate and if the lines preceding this one had not convinced the Fair Youth, this one surely must.

Hamlet also bears a reference to part of the final couplet. "Not where he eats; but where he is eaten: a certain convocation of political worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and lean beggar is but variable service, two dishes, but to one table: that's the end. (4.3.20-25).