Sunday, 17 January 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday: Sonnet 2

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 totter'd weed of small worth held:
Then being asked, 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 deserv'd 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.

What does the poem mean? Interestingly, it took until I read sonnet two to discover the poem rhymed. Why, oh why, am I discussing poetry, a subject I know so little about? I guess it's to get better at it.

The second sonnet is a continuation of the first, Shakespeare is talking a man that seems more interested in his looks than procreating. (I think something's wrong with him personally.) I read somewhere that the poet used his sonnets to make a point with his friends.

For example, this poem is meant for a specific man. Much debate has surrounded the true identity of Shakespeare young man, but many believe he was the Earl of Southampton(picture right), the poet's close friend and patron.

In my opinion, I don't see how he's good-looking at all but I guess the man thought he was 'all-that'. The Earl of Southampton did eventually pass on his good looks to his children and married... and caused a stir... and ended up in prison, but perhaps it was Shakespeare that gave him the push in that direction.


Anonymous said...

Not your everyday run of the mill post, which means I love it!!

I have an award for you HERE

Bisi Adjapon said...

Yes, I love the poem. Shakespeare doesn't describe the man's current appearance. The description is for the future, when the man is old and wrinkled (deep trenches) and his eye brows are grey from "forty winters" i.e. the snow. Yes, Shakespeare suggests that being a father says a lot more about the beauty of a man, in other words, the mettle of a man, which translates to inner beauty.


Ann Elle Altman said...

Vicky, first of all, thank you for the award. I will check out the link after writing this. Second, glad you like my Shakespeares sonnet section.

Bisi, Yes, if only we could describe our characters so well all the time.


TirzahLaughs said...

The poem is talks about how if the person gets old and their beauty fades, and all the admiration fades, what will be left to them? Nothing.

But the poem says, how much better it would be to pass that beauty on to their children. Because children are the true some of your life, not beauty's praise.

That when your blood cools, you die---all beauty that will be left is in the faces of your children.

Children and grandchildren and your line are all that lasts.

Thats what it says to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, that Earl might be cute, in a pointy devil beard kind of way. :)

I wonder if the Earl knew the poem was about his vanity? Makes me think of that Carly Simon song about Warren Battie, "You're so Vain."

I'm so glad you're doing the Shakespeare sonnets. I love reading his plays, but now I'm going to take a closer look at his sonnets.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Tirz, yes, that's exactly what it's saying.

Anonymous said...

What I love about 'Sonnet Sunday' is the exposure you offer, not only to Shakespeare's sonnets, but to the history behind them.

I didn't realize the sonnets were sequentially linked, or that they were directed at anyone in particular.

I tried to read this time for understanding before I read your notes at the bottom. I got through the first half fine then became lost mid-way. That's further than I got with Sonnet #1, and I have you to thank for it! I appreciate you exercising my mind.

Shakespeare will become legible yet. ;)

Great series here.

~ Corra ;)

from the desk of a writer

Ann Elle Altman said...

I'm forced to do research on Shakespeare. I'll know more than I was forced to in high school. Maybe next sonnet, I'll do a line by line commentary again.


TirzahLaughs said...

You should do a dark lady sonnet.

I always liked his discussion of beauty in the one poem.

That is his mistress was neither blonde, or light skinned. Her hair was coarse, she was not a goddess that walked up on air, but rather a real woman that he loved the more because of it.


Ann Elle Altman said...

Tirz, good idea, I'll have to do research.


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