Rebecca Van Sciver Mr. BrownHonors English1 May 2011Themes in Love and Time’s Passing Shakespearian SonnetsSonnet 12, Sonnet 18, and Sonnet 60compare and contrast the effects of time on the physical versus time on the written and how these two factors influence the meaning and duration of love. These Shakespearian sonnets, when paired together, form an organized thesis concerning both love and physical beauty, while rationalizing Shakespeare’s writing on both subjects.Sonnet 12deals primarily with the aging process and the brevity of youthful beauty.When I do count the clock that tells the time,And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;When I behold the violet past prime,And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white; When lofty trees I see barren of leaves Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,And summer's green all girded up in sheaves Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard, The first quatrain introduces the issue of time. Day falling into night, flowers wilting, golden curls silvering; all are situations in which time is changing and tainting beauty. These examples illustrate that nothing physical can overcome the natural progression of time, one of the themes common to Shakespearian sonnets. The second quatrain relates the season change and the harvest to the aging of an old man. Leaves fall from the trees and the shelter of the forest disappears. “Summer’s green”, presumably crops, is harvested for the people, leaving the fields
cold and bare. The appearance of wheat bundled in sheaves resembles the look of an aged man’s “bristly beard”. The third quatrain and the final couplet further define the previously mentioned ideas. Shakespeare takes the beauty of a specific woman into question, and relates her fate.