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The Sonnet Form and its Meaning: Shakespeares Sonnet 65

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The Sonnet Form and its Meaning: Shakespeare Sonnet 65

The sonnet, being one of the most traditional and recognized forms of poetry, has been used and altered in many time periods by writers to convey different messages to the audience. The strict constraints of the form have often been used to parallel the subject in the poem. Many times, the first three quatrains introduce the subject and build on one another, showing progression in the poem. The final couplet brings closure to the poem by bringing the main ideas together. On other occasions, the couplet makes a statement of irony or refutes the main idea with a counter statement. It leaves the reader with a last impression of what the author is trying to say. Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 65” is one example of Shakespearian sonnet form and it works with the constraints of this structure to question how one can escape the ravages of time on love and beauty. Shakespeare shows that even the objects in nature least vulnerable to time like brass, stone, and iron are mortal and eventually are destroyed. Of course the more fragile aspects of nature will die if these things do. The final couplet gives hope and provides a solution to the dilemma of time by having the author overcome mortality with his immortal writings.

“Sonnet 65” follows the traditional sonnet form with the rhyme scheme, ABAB CDCD EFEF GG. The poem is divided into 3 parts. The first two quatrains pose a similar question to the audience and confirm each others’ argument that fragile beauty cannot survive time if sturdy, almost invulnerable objects cannot. The third quatrain is a little different and asks what can be done to stop time’s ravages on love and beauty. The final couplet gives the answer to the questions in the sonnet and provides a solution to the problem. The anxiety and hopelessness of the speaker progresses through the quatrains, as can be seen in the diction change and meter irregularities from the accented “how” in quatrain one to the accented “O” in quatrain two and finally to the accented “O fearful meditation!” in quatrain three. The couplet stops the anxiety and the tone changes to hopeful because the answer to the problem is provided. The diction used is “O, none,” with a stress over both words. The speaker is passionate and excited to have found the answer.

The first quatrain questions how beauty can ...

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...ire sonnet has slight puns that can be taken in several meanings. While on the surface the speaker laments the loss of beauty and love in mortality, he also knows that his writings and what he writes in “black ink” will preserve these things for eternity. The “fearful meditations” and grand ideas and experiences of the poet are in tact through words. In reality, there really is truth in the immortality and lasting effect of words because today sonnets of love and beauty from the past are still studied. Many poets wrote on a metapoetic level because they knew their works could last, and there really is truth behind the power of writing.

Using a sonnet form brings much meaning and expectation to the words in a poem. With “Sonnet 65,” the structure shows progression of the emotions and ideas about beauty versus time through the quatrains and closes with a couplet announcing the dilemma to the problem. Many sonnets also contain a metapoetic level because the authors know the power of language and they choose to write about that power of writing. “Sonnet 65” is a perfect example of words that adhere to conventional sonnet form to produce meanings on multiple levels in poetry.