Friday, 8 January 2016

Sonnet 7

Sonnet 7 is hinged on a new piece of imagery: the passage of the Sun from sunrise to sunset. This Classical imagery was fairly common in works of the time as it drew upon mythological tales of Apollo riding in his chariot across the skies. However, just like the ones before it, the major theme is still procreation, a continual plea to the Fair Youth.
Beginning the poem with the word, "Lo," serves to draw maximum attention to what is to come after, as good an introduction as any, as it draws on the familiar phrase 'Lo and behold'. The persona immediately employs flattering descriptions when referring to the Fair Youth with the word "gracious," implying a  generous nature. The pedestal which has been under continuous  construction for the Fair Youth seems to have literally materialised in Line  2 as all those who view the gracious light can only view it from below, looking up to it like expectant disciples. The picture painted is a larger than life figure showering his appreciative subjects with unparalleled beauty. Beauty at its prime and in its most desirable state. An all-conquering demigod as all who look upon him "Doth homage," offer their respect. This line also serves to take us back to supposedly the day of the Fair Youth's birth. The day when all the world did converge before that pleasurable sight much like the birth of an heir to a throne.
Seeing as the Sun is being used as a metaphor for the Fair Youth and his progression through life, the "steep-up heavenly hill," seems to allude to the leap from childhood to the puberty stage and early adulthood. The "heavenly hill" where offspring can be made. It may seem rather outlandish for the word 'heavenly' to connote any form of sexual relevance and yet the feeling of orgasmic ruptures would certainly arouse a 'heavenly' or at least mystic state of being.
Lines 6 and 7 reflect the power of deception and immortality as only "mortal eyes" are deceived by the Sun's fleeting beauty, they continue to see vibrancy and elaborate beauty. Whilst everyone else is under the illusion, the persona apparently sees through the Fair Youth's guise. A hint of megalomania maybe or does he know the Fair Youth so well.
And then noon comes, "high-most pitch," the zenith. The climax of beauty, the point where all development ceases and youth and old age engage in a one-sided tug-o-war. Apollo's chariot is immediately "weary" the Sun "reeleth" in fatigue as the plunge to sunset begins. It is a fore-shadowing of what lies ahead for the Fair Youth. An inevitable consequence as we see it played out by the Sun day by day.
The final couplet brings forth the verdict; like the Sun's light disappearing in the horizon, the beauty will forever fade with no sunrise unless a son is to be born to take upon the throne. A mighty tedious throne as the unrelenting pressure to reproduce cannot be understated.
In Sonnet 7, William Shakespeare makes use of the strongest metaphor yet as the Fair Youth can look upon the Sun every single day and eulogise about his responsibility to the world.
Also worth noting is that not unlike other Shakespearean sonnets, sonnet 7 utilizes simplistic "word play" and "key words" to underline the thematic meaning. These words appear in root form or similar variations. The poetic eye finds interest in the use of 'looks' (line 4), 'looks' (line 7), 'look' (line 12), and 'unlook'd' (line 14). A more thematic word play used is those words denoting 'age', but that are not explicitly identifiable.
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage;

By using words typical of expressing human features (e.g. youth), the reader begins to identify the sun as being representative of man. The sun does not assume an actual 'age', therefore we infer that the subject of the poem is man.