Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sonnet 65

Like all those before it, Sonnet 65 is a continual address to a Fair Youth who against Shakespeare's seemingly better judgement incessantly rejects the idea of having offspring in order to forever preserve the beauty which nature has bestowed upon him. Sonnet 65 is widely considered to be a follow-up to Sonnet 64 as the same imagery and metaphors are used in an attempt to convince the Fair Youth to heed the warnings of the persona.
Shakespeare seems intensely disturbed by the ceaseless passage of the 'destroyer' Time and thus illustrates the strength of Time from the very first line by listing objects in nature that are probably least likely to be affected by time. However, the second line asserts that "sad mortality" is just too strong for 'stone, boundless sea or brass'. What hope is there for the Fair Youth if even these resilient elements are powerless in the face of time? Lines 4 and 5 ask this rhetorical question in a bid to aid the Fair Youth in understanding the odds he seeks to sway. A fairly interesting theme is also alluded to in these lines as it appears that beauty wields no or very little power, much like a 'flower.' One is certainly left to conclude that the greater the beauty of an artifact, the greater its fragility, a sombering revelation for those in pursuit of beauty or those whose actions are governed by it.
The "O" in the fifth line serves as a lamentation of what is to be done in such trying times. How is 'Summer's breath'( Fair Youth's beauty personified), the breath that brings life to all, the breath of warmth, the very breath that all things beautiful rely on; to survive the onslaught of Time? Use of the word 'siege' in line 6 goes as far as to give the impression of a war, the enemy battering away at the defences until beauty yields as the 'stone' and 'brass' and 'earth' before it. Such is the severity of the treat time holds and yet the Fair Youth remains ever adamant.
Rocks thought to be impregnable and even gates of steel fall victim to Time's rage. Certainly time is invincible and beauty cannot stand in its way. The final quatrain is a plea for a saviour, a force that can hold time back. Something to protect the Fair Youth's beauty. It is an interesting setup for the last couplet considering that Shakespeare all but fingers himself as the solution.

A miracle he calls his writing and to be fair he was right. Just as he somewhat predicted, the Fair Youth's beauty has stood the test of time through his 'ink.' What may have seemed like an egotistic fore-shadowing at the time has manifested into the purity of truth, to this day the 'miracle' of the 'black ink' has been fulfilled and mortality has met its match at least as far as the beauty of the Fair Youth is concerned.