Sunday, 8 May 2016

Sonnet 11

Just as the ones before it, this Sonnet is part of the procreation sequence directed at a younger man whom Shakespeare was supposedly in 'love' with. Effective comprehension of the themes established in this poem is entwined with an understanding of the ones before this one as line 7, "If all were minded so, the time should cease," a line which hinges on the belief that the reader already knows how the Fair Youth is 'minded'(his view on procreation) and thus the tactfulness and intensity of this episode of persuasion should not be a surprise.
Line 1 plunges straight into lamentation of time's ravages on the Fair Youth. The beauty is sure to 'wane'(diminish) and it will happen with considerable speed, a sombering thought for any who might want to witness such elegance in the future. However, hope exists also in that first line as the persona asserts that just as rapid as beauty is taken, it is given and it grows within the Fair Youth's heir. Naught is to be lost if only the Fair Youth were to bear offspring and so continues this raging plea.
Much like an investment, bearing offspring in fruitful youth, "And that fresh blood which youngly thou bestow'st," will prove worthwhile in old age, "Thou mayst call thine when thou from youth convertest," the thought of having an image of an illustrious past readily available to admire and reminisce upon every now and again appears to not be enough for the Fair Youth. He would rather avoid and such nostalgia for reasons that interestingly up to this point have not even been hinted at.
Shakespeare then makes an attempt to appeal to the subject's pride via a thinly veiled attack on the the Fair Youth's intellect by averring that the 'wise' choice is to have a child. Interlaced with this attack is a beseechment to all that one may value, "beauty and increase." Surely, the Fair Youth should succumb to the basest of desires ( adoration and perpetual profiting, riches probably). If not for that, then the fear of "age and cold decay" should reign supreme and force the Fair Youth even against his will to brook the 'burden' of having children.
Lines 7-9 reveal somewhat beguiling facets of the poet's nature. Whilst he seeming cares for  the perpetual existence of mankind, he seems rather ruthless when it comes to characters he considers for whatever reason not worth it, " featureless and rude." Such an attitude serves to cast a dark light on Elizabethan times as ones looks and etiquette avowedly defined whether their existence was worthwhile.

The final couplet entails a metaphor that elevates the Fair Youth to the level of second to Nature itself as he is considered the 'seal' from which all else good will be imitated. No creature as beautiful will be created henceforth and yet the Fair  Youth sees fit to rob the world of that one copy of perfection.