Sonnet 16


Sonnet 16

sonnet|16
But wherefore do not you a mightier way
Make war upon this bloody tyrant, Time?
And fortify yourself in your decay
With means more blessed than my barren rhyme?
Now stand you on the top of happy hours,
And many maiden gardens yet unset
With virtuous wish would bear your living flowers,
Much liker than your painted counterfeit:
So should the lines of life that life repair,
Which this, Time's pencil, or my pupil pen,
Neither in inward worth nor outward fair,
Can make you live yourself in eyes of men.
To give away yourself keeps yourself still,
And you must live, drawn by your own sweet skill.

Shakespeare's Sonnet 16 is another of his procreation sonnets, this one continuing from Sonnet 15. In it, the speaker asks the young man why he does not actively fight against time and age by having a child.

Paraphrase

Why don't you fight time with weapons more powerful than my poetry? Right now you are in your prime, and many women would be willing to bear you a child, who would copy you better than any work of art. The life of your child would renew your own beyond my own power (Lines 9-12 are doubtful and contested). Giving your self away (that is, in marriage and procreation) will allow you to keep yourself (in life), and only your own skill can cause this to happen.

ource and analysis

The sonnet is a syntactical and thematic continuation of 15. Interpretation of the sonnet hinges on the third quatrain, generally regarded as obscure. Edmond Malone suggested that "lines of life" refers to children, with a pun on line as bloodline. This reading was accepted by Edward Dowden and others. Line 10 is equally obscure, with the connection of "this" to "Time's pencil" and "my pupil pen" (the latter phrase George Steevens regarded as evidence that Shakespeare wrote his sonnets as a youth; for T. W. Baldwin, the phrase connects this sonnet to "The Rape of Lucrece"). While in general terms "Time" is in this line a form of artist (rather than a destroyer, as elsewhere in the cycle), its exact function is unclear. The second half of the quatrain completes the assertion that procreation is a more viable route to immortality than the "counterfeit" of art. Following William Empson, Stephen Booth points out that all of the potential readings of this disputed quatrain are potentially accurate: while the lines do not establish a single meaning, the reader understands in general terms the usual theme, the contrast between artistic and genealogical immortality.

References

*Alden, Raymond. "The Sonnets of Shakespeare, with Variorum Reading and Commentary". Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1916.
*Baldwin, T. W. "On the Literary Genetics of Shakespeare's Sonnets". Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1950.
*Booth, Stephen. "Shakespeare's Sonnets". New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977.
*Empson, William. "Seven Types of Ambiguity". New York: Vintage, 1975.

External links

* [http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/xvicomm.htm Analysis]
* [http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-169,pageNum-19.html CliffsNotes]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • SONNET — SONNE Poème à forme fixe de quatorze vers répartis en quatre strophes, le sonnet tient dans la littérature européenne, et notamment française, une place extrêmement importante. On sait qu’«un sonnet sans défaut vaut seul un long poème» (Boileau) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Sonnet 18 — sonnet|18 Shall I compare thee to a summer s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer s lease hath all too short a date; Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 55 — Sonnet|55 Not marble, nor the gilded monuments Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme; But you shall shine more bright in these contents Than unswept stone besmear d with sluttish time. When wasteful war shall statues overturn, And broils… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 1 — sonnet|1 From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby beauty s rose might never die, But as the riper should by time decease, His tender heir might bear his memory: But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes, Feed st thy light st… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 30 — Sonnet|30 When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, And with old woes new wail my dear time s waste: Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow, For precious… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 63 — Sonnet|63 Against my love shall be, as I am now, With Time s injurious hand crush d and o er worn; When hours have drain d his blood and fill d his brow With lines and wrinkles; when his youthful morn Hath travell d on to age s steepy night, And… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 2 — sonnet|2 When forty winters shall besiege thy brow, And dig deep trenches in thy beauty s field, Thy youth s proud livery, so gazed on now, Will be a tatter d weed, of small worth held: Then being ask d where all thy beauty lies, Where all the… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 29 — Sonnet|29 When, in disgrace with fortune and men s eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featured like him, like… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 13 — Sonnet|13 O! that you were your self; but, love, you are No longer yours, than you your self here live: Against this coming end you should prepare, And your sweet semblance to some other give: So should that beauty which you hold in lease Find no …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 3 — Sonnet|3 Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest Now is the time that face should form another; Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest, Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother. For where is she so fair whose unear d womb… …   Wikipedia

  • Sonnet 60 — Sonnet|60 Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore, So do our minutes hasten to their end; Each changing place with that which goes before, In sequent toil all forwards do contend. Nativity, once in the main of light, Crawls to maturity,… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.