An Essay On Shakespeare's 12th Sonnet

1743 words - 7 pages

1. When I do count the clock that tells the time,2. And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;3. When I behold the violet past prime,4. And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white;5. When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,6. Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,7. And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,8. Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,9. Then of thy beauty do I question make,10. That thou among the wastes of time must go,11. Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake12. And die as fast as they see others grow;13. And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence14. Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.This sonnet is so famous that it almost ...view middle of the document...

The iambic foot is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. Pentameter means there are five feet in the line. "Iambic Pentameter," subsequently, means a line of ten syllables, which interchanges unstressed and stressed syllables according to the iambic measure.The rhyme scheme of a sonnet refers to the pattern shaped by the rhyming words at the end of each line. Every end-rhyme is assigned a letter, and the fourteen letters assigned to the sonnet illustrate the rhyme scheme. Different types of sonnets have dissimilar rhyme schemes.The Shakespearean or English sonnet was essentially developed in the sixteenth century by the Earl of Surrey, but is named after Shakespeare because of his great sonnet series (a sequence of sonnets all exploring the same theme) printed in the year 1609. The Shakespearean sonnet has the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, shaping three quatrains (four lines in a group) and a closing couplet (two rhymed lines). The trouble is generally developed in the first three quatrains, each quatrain with an original idea growing out of the preceding one. Sometimes the first two quatrains are dedicated to the same thought, similar to the octave of the Petrarchan sonnet, and followed by a similar Volta or turn. Most noticeably unlike the Petrarchan version, the Shakespearean sonnet is brought to a hard-hitting declaration in the diminutive final couplet.The Petrarchan or Italian sonnet, named because of the fourteenth century Italian poet Petrarch, has the rhyme scheme ABBAABBA CDECDE. The first eight lines, which all end in rhyme A or B, form the octave. The last six lines, which end in C, D, or E, form the sestet. Alternative rhyme schemes for the sestet also consist of CDCDCD and CDEDCE. There is frequently a pause or break in thought between the octave and sestet. That again is the Volta or turn. Conventionally, one main thought is set out in the octave and brought to a resolution in the sestet.The general effect, of the poem, is dismal, and the closing couplet, with its valiant stand against time, restricted to a single line in the poem, gives the notion that nothing will be saved, and that the reality of what the poet has been saying all along is as insignificant as breath and water.In line one the word count equals a testimony or to sum up, and the word tells gives us a report (by chiming). In days when light was limited, the audible telling of time was vital, therefore the use of repeater clocks which, when a button was pushed, or a string pulled, the chiming of a clock was sounding. A village and town clock also strikes on the hour. In the second line, Shakespeare gives us the word brave. The word here almost has a visual implication, signifying brilliance and courage, as opposed to the cruelty and darkness of hideous night. Compare Miranda's exclamation in The Tempest:Oh brave new world,That has such people in't! Tem.V.1.183-4,and Henry King:Brave flowers, that I could gallant it like youAnd be as little vain!...

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