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Sonnet 106 is about a beautiful person who is too lovely for even poetry to describe. At first, Shakespeare thinks his subject is beautiful like the old “ladies dead and lovely knights” (line 4), but then realizes that his subject’s beauty is even greater than that described by previous authors. He then theorizes that the “antique pen” (line 7) wrote prophecies praising this person’s beauty. The prophecies prefigured the subject’s appearance, yet even they “had not skill enough” to describe the beauty. Now (rather, in Shakespeare’s time) they still “lack tongues to praise” (line 14) the beauty.
· A subtle volta appears around line 8 in this sonnet.
o The turn happens as Shakespeare goes from talking about past beauty to realizing that that past beauty was actually prophecy of the upcoming beauty of the subject of the poem.
· Sonnet 106 can be likened to Sonnet 18, which also speaks of an immortal and eternal beauty.
o In Sonnet 18, Shakespeare writes about not forgetting that eternal beauty, rather than envisioning a beauty that is unforgettable.
o The volta in Sonnet 18 happens around the same place, a little bit later.
o There is no blazon in Sonnet 18. Although it is also about beauty, it expresses that beauty metaphorically rather than physically.