Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sonnet 2 by William Shakespeare

Since I am on retreat (run away! run away!), I won't belabor this post with the usual level of analysis. I simply give you William Shakespeare's sonnet, "When forty winters shall besiege thy brow", a "hold onto your knickers" reading of the same by David Tennant, and a few brief remarks.

Sonnet 2
by William Shakespeare

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 treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,'
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
  This were to be new made when thou art old,
  And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

Form: A Shakespearean sonnet, iambic pentameter, ABABCDCDEFEFGG.

Analysis: Being one of the earliest sonnets, this is of the "go beget a son already, don't die childless" bent. As someone who is now on the other side of 40 (how did that happen anyway?), I don't like his characterization of tattered weeds and sunken eyes and used-up beauty. But recall - forty was quite a sum of years for most people in Elizabethan times.

And now, ladies and gents, hang on to your knickers:

You can't say I didn't warn you. What a voice! *swoons*

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Ruth said...

Shakespeare doesn't make 40 sound very appealing, does he? Thanks for this!

Ruth said...

Oh, and I agree with you about that voice!

Kelly Fineman said...

Ruth: Shakespeare may well be pulling a bit of a prank there - as in the "over-the-hill" celebration sort of way. It's also possible that he himself was 40 when he wrote it - since we don't have dates of composition, we can't be sure, but we DO know that the Fair Youth was much younger than he.

And I'm so glad you loved David Tennant's recording too!