Sonnet 65

Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 65

British literature is abundant of talented masters of the word: poets, writers, men of genius. Every epoch of the British literature is of gentle uniqueness and refined beauty. The epoch of Renaissance presented the world such outstanding persons as William Shakespeare, Thomas Wyatt, Edmund Spenser and others. The aim of this work is to analyze Shakespeares Sonnet 65 dedicated to the eternal phenomena of love, death, and beauty. The analysis will provide the readers with unique information on the writers message in a poem, its theme, symbolic elements used, as well as stylistic devices such as figures of speech and sound effects.

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Meaning and Message

Sonnet 65 delivers many images that may lead to the understanding of futility in the face of time corruptions. The poem is tightly connected with Shakespearean Sonnet 64 that deals with a sudden revelation of the fear of intolerable loss (Canham and Satuyamurti 101). Shakespeare talks in this sonnet about the mortality of everything in this world, no matter whether it is a human being or a thing. He mediates upon his own dreams and asserts that the immortality of his lover is deemed to fail. The author realizes that a day will come and two people that are connected with each other in a fools paradise will meet their intolerable destiny and pass away. Sonnet 65 seems to follow the tradition; however, it consolidates powerlessness of the eternity of youth in the shadow of time ravages. Nothing can resist the effect of time apart from Shakespeares immortal lines: He believes that his love verse can preserve the youths beauty (Senna 55). As a summary, the theme of Sonnet 65 is that nobody and nothing can prevent the results of destructive power of time and resist the mortality.


The desperate-exalting tone of a poem is predetermined by its overall message and a general mood. The speaker in the poem is the author personally; he talks on the subject of futility of existence caused by the powerlessness in the face of inevitable time changes leading to a cease of everything in this world.

Thus, the speaker is desperate because there is not a thing in the universe that can withstand the ruinous effects of time. Even his lovers youth and beauty are not eternal. According to Mainul, The poet is extremely afraid of looking at the actions being done by time against the human beings and the natural things. Nonetheless, a poet is hopeful and truly believes that art such as poetry can preserve the beatitude of the wonderful people and love in its lines. The speaker shows his attitude towards the subject of a poem through the diction, for example he counts the most resistant to the destructions of time things saying Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, no boundless sea/ but sad mortality oer-sways their power (1-2); thus, trying to reassert the mighty power of time. He ponders over the fragility of the things comparing them with more tender things such as vegetation: How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea/ whose action is no stronger than a flower? (3-4). The speaker worries about the preservation of immortality, and makes inspirited efforts to immortalize his love on paper: O none, unless this miracle have might/ that in black ink my love may still shine bright (13-14). In addition, a miracle is promised, though its substance is purely verbal (Mirsky 113). The readers can learn that such words as time, beauty, and mortality detect speakers true feelings towards the subject of the sonnet.

Figures of Speech

Shakespeare applies figurative language devices such as personifications, metaphors, similes, and ironies in order to pass the overall message of his poem. He embodies similes in sonnet in the form of comparisons. An example of similes is when the author compares an amazing skill of beatitude that is no stronger than a flower to the power to resist the ruinous times rushes during the lapse needed to demolish very basic terrestrial substances.

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In order to depict a battle between fairness and a potent influence of time, Shakespeare utilizes the legal metaphor of beautys plea and action has a power the power of thought and argument (Canham and Satuyamurti 102). The author makes a comparison between beauty and a flower, thus, focusing on the tenderness and refined nature of beatitude. Ironically, this back-and-forth thinking mirrors the movement of the ways to the shore an image the poet uses in many of the time-themed sonnets in this sequence (Ward 156).

Personifications like a complicated kind of metaphors can be found in the symbol of summer, whose combat with time extends into a composite metaphorical conjunction consisting of wreckful siege, battering days, impregnable. It is said that summers honey breath is laid under siege by Time. This kind of metaphors can be surely called a mixed one. It implies a subordination of feeble thing to the stronger one. Thus, it is interesting why deceitful and tender beauty is somehow invulnerable to time clashes exactly as breath could not be against the wreckful siege (6). Time in Sonnet 65 acts like a universal personification and rules over everything in this world either spiritual or not. The most weird structure in sonnet is a kind of extensive metaphor like …what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?

Then the answer to this rhetorical question will be that only poets hand is able to withstand the quick march of time that strides towards the end and breakup. Love and death as times jewels are ironically represented in sonnet, which is immortal throughout the centuries.

Sound Effects

Skillful usage of sound effects while creating a sonnet is an evident feature of Shakespearean work. Shakespeare uses alliteration that is a repetition of sounds that mostly stand on the beginning of the words. He employs consonance that is repetition of a consonant sounds. Moreover, the poet adds an assonance that is a repetition of vowels of close words that do not form a rhyme. These specific sound devices are used to create the specific atmosphere. An example for appropriate use of these methods is when sometimes it may be an atmosphere of immense power and strength of things, the resistibility, and control. Alliteration: steel so strong, still shine, assonance hand can, so strong, consonance hand hold his, black ink, still shine. Sonnet 65 has no vivid examples of onomatopoeia that is known to refer to words that copy the sounds they are describing (Blaisdell 5). For example, the author often insert o , or at the beginning of the sentences like a part of rhetorical questions or statements: O, how shall summers honey breath hold out (5).

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Shakespearean poem uses iambic pentameter. Pentameter means meter, and pen, meaning five… so theres five beats (Albanese 60). It is a usual poetic form during the Renaissance epoch in England. Without a doubt, William Shakespeare is a genius when it is comes to a formulaic poetry. His sonnets are numerable examples of amazing effect of iambic pentameter usage for creating an original poem. Sonnet 65 copies the traditional sonnet form with the rhyme scheme. An inseparable combination of sound devices along with poetic form and rhyming creates unique atmosphere of a hopeful desperation in the poem.


Completely symbolic imagery is spread throughout Shakespearean poem. Time has a symbolic meaning; it embodies a powerlessness of every existing substance when it comes to mortality. Everything moves toward its final stage: a cease of existence, beauty decay. Summer acts as personified image of flourishing and gentle fragility of youth, love, and beauty; times jewel is the most valuable, worthwhile treasure of time that is flourishing youth. Times chest is a treasure house of things robbed by time; it is a tomb.

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Gates of steel in the lines Nor gates of steel so strong but Time decays? represent the protection from the ruinous effect of time; however, even so solid gates cannot resist a powerful destroyer (8). According to Grossman, the symbol-instinct exchange in Sonnet 65 requires an interior space, a dimensional subjectivity, in which to inscribe itself (167). A bright picture of hands feebleness in endeavor to oppose the severe enemy that strides swiftly on its way to non-existence is represented by lines Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? (11).


This paper provides the readers with a literature analysis of William Shakespeares Sonnet 65. It researches the overall meaning and message of a poem, its tone, symbolic imagery, figures of speech, and sound effects, such as assonance, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. The author made is the best representative of literature, who can create original and exciting sonnet that follows the tradition of iambic pentameter in the English poetry during Renaissance. A modern variant of Shakespearean sonnet 65 is popular worldwide and more familiar to the reader than the quarto version of it of 1609. The theme of invincible power of beauty, youth, and love in poetry, but its feebleness to times demolitions is famous due to this poem by Shakespeares hand.


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