Sonnet 60

From mortality to the dangers of love, Shakespeare’s sonnets contain a wide variety of
themes. As I was reading, Sonnet #60 stood out to me as it demonstrated a fleetingness of life and love in a way that no previous sonnet had. The tone is darker, and from the second line, the reader is able to make an emotional connection to Shakespeare’s thoughts and feeling regarding the mortality of man and life itself. The 60th sonnet demonstrates the ebb and flow of life, which eventually ends in death, in a way that echoes the entire storyline of the series of sonnets.

I found the 60th sonnet to be unique because it touches on the entire circle of life as opposed to certain phases. While there are other sonnets that mention mortality and death, the 60th sonnet incorporates the macabre with other stages of life. In the fifth line, Shakespeare mentions the nativity, a reference that I believe was intended to represent the beginning of life. The Nativity then “crawls to maturity,” which represents the journey through adolescence and adulthood. The use of “crawls” demonstrates that, even in the 16th century, it was not an easy road from childhood to adulthood.

Time is the main antagonist in this sonnet. Near the end, Time is portrayed as demon
feasting on the beauty of youth. Time is a villain whose only purpose is to drain the beauties of nature in a most brute way. The youth and beauty expressed in the earlier sonnets is brief, but the cycle of the rebirth and death of new beauty is constant. Time is a horrible beast who brings about the end of beauty in a careless and merciless way, but without it, one would not be able to experience the ever-changing beauty the world has to offer.

Even with the darker tone near the end of the sonnet, the couplet manages to highlight the importance of leaving one’s mark upon the world. Despite Time’s savagery, Shakespeare’s written works are a way for him to escape the ravages of Time. By writing all of his sonnets, Shakespeare, in a sense, has managed to outsmart time. Lasting works of art in any form helps to slow Time in its tracks and keeps one’s creative flame from being put out too soon.

~Olivia Wann


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