Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sonnet 116

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Sonnet 116 explores the less physical relationship of him to his lover, whom he directly addresses.  The sonnet explores the constancy of love.  This concept of  "Love is not love/Which alters when it alteration finds" is expanded upon through the use of nautical imagery, specifically tempests and navigational stars.  It is interesting to note that at the volta the tone shifts to something far more dark and grim, with Time's "sickle's compass come" and "the edge of doom."  Even in the face of a disheartening Nothing, love is able to withstand and "[bear] it out."
This sonnet bears many striking similarities to Sonnet 60, which is also about constancy in the face of the vicissitudes of nature.  Like Sonnet 116, it uses natural imagery like the "waves make towards the pebbl'd shore."  There is also a reference to Time with His scythe, bearing down on the poet with a morbid certainty.  "Time's fell hand" also makes an appearance in Sonnet 64, which is also about the ravages of Time and the despair which comes with death.  In both of these poems the volta marks a point where the poet considers his love's position in the uncertainty of time's arrow.    In sonnet 60, he decides to go on "Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand," whereas in Sonnet 60 he decides to weep.  Both also begin with couplets which compare love to nature, as in beaches or ruined castles.  These sonnets demonstrate Skaespeare's fascination with death and it's effect on intensifying love for another human.

1 comment:

  1. Shakespeare seems to be preoccupied with the passage of time and the relationship time shares with love. I hadn't read sonnet 60 until reading your post. While sonnet 60 employs the waves of the sea as a metaphor for the passing of time, sonnet 73, which I annotated, employed autumn as a metaphor for the passage of time. As you pointed out this metaphor is continually emphasized throughout the sonnet as it continually uses nautical imagery.