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“When in the Chronicles of Wasted Time”
"You’re so beautiful, you made me forget my pickup line."
Even if Shakespeare was writing Sonnet 106 to a man (Constantakis), this poem has some of the best pickup lines out there. Pickup lines are tricky. It’s hard to tell someone in a unique way you think she/he is beautiful/handsome. That’s where we get cheesy pickup lines like “Somebody call God, because he’s missing an angel.” Saying “You’re beautiful” in an original way was difficult even in Shakespeare’s time. Which is why Sonnet 106 is the perfect way to catch your crush.
If Elizabethan English isn’t good enough, is anything?
Have you ever been in a situation where you think, “Wow, back in the day they really knew how to make the reader swoon?” Modern language just can’t do it justice anymore. (Unfortunately for our day, that might be true—JB, I’m looking at you). But even in the Elizabethan age, Shakespeare was saying the same thing about ancient times. Sonnet 106 laments how language isn’t adequate enough to do justice to his subject’s beauty. “For we, which now behold these present days, have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise" (Shakespeare).
Not just Unbelievable; Prophecy
Shakespeare isn’t just saying the subject’s beauty is beyond this age’s capacity to capture. He’s saying those who were able to capture it in ancient times were actually writing about his subject. “So all their praises are but prophecies. Of this our time, all you prefiguring” (Shakespeare). Actually, Shakespeare is saying that the ancient poets weren’t just writing but prophesying about his subject. That’s the power the subject’s beauty has. Not just natural, but spiritual beauty that breaks even the boundaries of time. Professor Paul Westover says this poem is foreshadowing. Just like the Old Testament foreshadowed the coming of Christ, so did the ancient chronicles foreshadow Shakespeare’s subject (Larsen). How’s that for a compliment? “Your beauty is so magnificent, it was a prophecy in medieval times.” Especially when we remember medieval beauty looked like this:
“When in the chronicle of wasted time” is a beautiful line. Chronicle refers to histories. Wasted time refers to time past. But why wasted? The word has such sad connotations. Perhaps it’s simultaneously referring to the waste of adequate words lost in an ancient time, unable to capture the current beauty before Shakespeare. Wasted appropriately sets the mood for the theme of the poem. Wasted efforts. Inability to do justice. And yet, Shakespeare is being sneaky. Even while saying the language isn’t good enough, he proves it is with the poem. Shakespeare must have been an expert flirt.
If you want more lines, go to Top Ten Shakespeare Pickup Lines.
“Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned,
Mindless of its just honours; with this key
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody.” –Wordsworth
I scorned this poem at first for not being as famous as others. But, to quote Professor Westover, “Even a bad Shakespeare sonnet is a good sonnet.” And he was right. Compared to Sonnet 130, which plays ironically with the idea of beauty, Sonnet 106 is a serious sonnet, seemingly less creative. Yet when you see how Shakespeare is playing with time, calling up long dead authors to pay homage to his subject, the poem becomes ingenious. Much better than “Hey baby, is your name Google? Because you’ve got everything I’m searching for.” And while I don’t think this poem has as many layers as Evan’s lets on (trying to make the eyebrow a deep reference to the seat of the brain and mind) it was an ingeniously crafted way to say “You’re beautiful.” I wonder if Shakespeare made all the ladies swoon? Probably having dinner with Shakespeare went something like this...