'Sonnet 15: When I consider every thing that grows' by William Shakespeare
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The Sonnets1609When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment.
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment.
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheerèd and checked even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay,
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with decay
To change your day of youth to sullied night;And all in war with Time for love of you,As he takes from you, I engraft you new.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Sonnet 15: When I consider every thing that grows
William Shakespeare's Sonnet 15 is a beautiful and poignant piece of poetry that explores the theme of mortality and the inevitability of death. In this sonnet, the speaker reflects on the fleeting nature of life and the passing of time, using natural imagery to illustrate the transience of all living things. Through his masterful use of language and metaphor, Shakespeare creates a powerful meditation on the human condition that continues to resonate with readers today.
Structure and Form
Sonnet 15 follows the traditional structure of a Shakespearean sonnet, consisting of three quatrains and a final couplet. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, and the meter is iambic pentameter. The poem's formal structure creates a sense of balance and symmetry, which is reflected in the poem's thematic focus on the cyclical nature of life and death.
The sonnet begins with the speaker reflecting on the transience of life, using nature as a metaphor for the passing of time. He states, "When I consider everything that grows/Holds in perfection but a little moment" (lines 1-2). The use of the word "moment" emphasizes the fleeting nature of life and underscores the inevitability of death. The speaker then goes on to describe the passing of the seasons, using the metaphor of a "summer's day" to illustrate the cyclical nature of life and death. He states, "So are the days of men; they wither in their prime" (line 6).
The second quatrain expands on the theme of mortality, using natural imagery to further illustrate the transience of life. The speaker describes the passing of the seasons, stating that "all the fairest flowers are soonest faded" (line 9). This metaphor emphasizes the fragility of life and the inevitability of death, and underscores the idea that all things must come to an end.
In the third quatrain, the speaker reflects on the idea that death can only be defeated through the creation of new life. He states, "But thy eternal summer shall not fade/Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest" (lines 9-10). The use of the word "eternal" emphasizes the idea that life can only be perpetuated through the creation of new life, and underscores the cyclical nature of existence.
The final couplet concludes the poem with a powerful statement of the speaker's intent. He states, "So long as men can breathe or eyes can see/So long lives this, and this gives life to thee" (lines 13-14). This couplet emphasizes the idea that the poem itself is a form of immortality, and that the speaker's words will live on long after he is gone.
The dominant themes of Sonnet 15 are mortality and the cyclical nature of life and death. The poem emphasizes the fragility of life and the inevitability of death, and underscores the idea that all living things must eventually come to an end. The use of natural imagery emphasizes the cyclical nature of existence, and underscores the idea that death can only be defeated through the creation of new life.
Sonnet 15 can be interpreted as a meditation on the human condition, and a reflection on the inevitability of mortality. The speaker's use of natural imagery emphasizes the fleeting nature of life, and underscores the idea that all things must come to an end. The poem's cyclical structure emphasizes the idea that death can only be defeated through the creation of new life, and underscores the idea that the speaker's words will live on long after he is gone.
Sonnet 15 is a beautiful and poignant meditation on the human condition, and a powerful reflection on the inevitability of mortality. Through his masterful use of language and metaphor, Shakespeare creates a powerful meditation on the human experience that continues to resonate with readers today.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
When I consider every thing that grows, one of the most famous sonnets written by William Shakespeare, is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece of poetry that explores the themes of time, mortality, and the power of art. This sonnet is part of a larger collection of 154 sonnets, which were published in 1609. Shakespeare's sonnets are considered some of the greatest works of English literature, and this particular sonnet is no exception.
The sonnet begins with the speaker contemplating the natural world around him. He reflects on the growth and decay of all living things, from the smallest flowers to the mightiest trees. He notes that everything in nature is subject to the passage of time, and that even the most beautiful and vibrant things will eventually wither and die. This theme of mortality is a common one in Shakespeare's sonnets, and it is a reflection of the Elizabethan era's preoccupation with death and the afterlife.
The second quatrain of the sonnet shifts the focus to the speaker's own mortality. He notes that even he, with all his accomplishments and achievements, will eventually succumb to the ravages of time. This is a sobering thought, and it underscores the fleeting nature of human existence. The speaker seems to be grappling with the idea that no matter how much we accomplish in life, we are all ultimately subject to the same fate.
The third quatrain of the sonnet introduces the idea of art as a means of transcending mortality. The speaker notes that while everything in nature is subject to decay and death, art has the power to endure. He suggests that through his poetry, he will be able to preserve his own legacy and achieve a kind of immortality. This is a powerful idea, and it speaks to the enduring appeal of Shakespeare's work. Even centuries after his death, his plays and sonnets continue to be read and performed around the world.
The final couplet of the sonnet brings the themes of mortality and art together in a powerful way. The speaker suggests that his poetry will be able to defy the passage of time, and that future generations will continue to read and appreciate his work. He notes that as long as people continue to read his poetry, he will continue to live on in some small way. This is a beautiful sentiment, and it speaks to the power of art to transcend the limitations of human existence.
Overall, When I consider every thing that grows is a beautiful and thought-provoking sonnet that explores some of the most fundamental themes of human existence. Shakespeare's language is rich and evocative, and his imagery is both vivid and poignant. The sonnet is a testament to the enduring power of art, and it reminds us that even in the face of mortality, we can find a kind of immortality through our creative endeavors.
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