Sunday, 7 February 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday: Sonnet 5

Those hours, that with gentle work did frame
The lovely gaze where every eye doth dwell,
Will play the tyrants to the very same
And that unfair which fairly doth excel;
For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter, and confounds him there;
Sap checked with frost, and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o'er-snowed and bareness every where:
Then were not summer's distillation left,
A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,
Beauty's effect with beauty were bereft,
Nor it, nor no remembrance what it was:
But flowers distill'd, though they with winter meet,
Leese but their show; their substance still lives sweet.
 This poem takes you through season ie. the years of your life...
1) The (hours) time that nature (gentle work) spent on you making (frame) you what you are - beautiful
2) The face (gaze - your face has eyes to gaze) or beauty that everyone sees
3) Well, those hours or time will be cruel (a tyrant) to that same beauty.
4) And make ugly (unfair) the beauty(fairly) that you have
5) Time will bring upon summer (time, another season, more years)
6) Til finally you reach the end (winter - last season) where it will destroy (confounds).
7) Young beauty (sap-spring) now old (frost -winter) well past prime (autumn leaves)
8) Beauty is gone and barren.
9-10) If you can't hold on to beauty like the fragrant flowers perfumed in a glass vial*
11) Then beauty will be lost (bereft)
12) The beauty and its remembrance of it would be lost.
13) But if you could capture it (flowers distilled), even if winter came,
14) The flowers (outward beauty) would be gone but the sweet smell (internal essence/being) will remain.

*This refers to the distillation of perfume from fragrant flowers, such as roses. Rosewater was much in demand for sweetmeats, confections and kissing-comfits. The distillate would be kept in a glass vessel, a vial.

PIC Source: Description des Royaumes D'Angleterre et D'Ecosse. Composé par Estienne Perlin.Par. 1558. Histoire de LEntree de La Reine Mere dans La Grande Bretagne.Par. 1639.
PIC Source:


Mason Canyon said...

Very inspiring. Thanks for sharing, I don't think I would have look at it that way, but now I do.

Anonymous said...

Ah! Every time you post these I try to sound out the meaning myself, then reread after I take in your meaning. It really is beautiful writing, and one of these days I hope to have a clue what he means before I read your words. No luck yet!!

Great series here.


from the desk of a writer

Tomjay said...


I am Tom Jay and i would like to know if you are interested to
earn advertising money by serving mobile advertisement on your web site.

 Mobgold is one of the largest mobile ad networks which have been working
with social network sites, content portals, iphone Apps developers or mobile
operators to help them increase their revenue by serving mobile
advertisement on their wap site, Apps or mobile internet channels in a very
rewarding way.

 If you are interested, you can sign up free at

or you can log in
for more information.



Ann Elle Altman said...

Mason, tank you for your words. I try my hardest to correctly translate his poems.

COrra, it does sometimes take time. I know I had a tough time with some of the words.


Jenny Girl said...

What lovely post! I have never been able to quite figure out his sonnets. Thank you for helping me understand this one.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Thank you, Jenny. Glad you find it helpful. Wish I had this in high school.


Tiffany Neal said...

Just wanted to stop by and say hello. You and I both recieved Over the Top Awards from Kimberly and felt that we needed to know eachother since we, quite obviously, are over the top!
I'm new at the blogging thing, so stop by if you get a chance! :)

Joanne said...

What a beautiful interpretation. I like the way it ends with hope, with the possibility of holding on to a beauty, internally, which lingers with us.

Ann Elle Altman said...

Thanks, Tiffany, and I became a follower of your blog. Hope you do well in your contest.

Joanne, glad you liked it. I'm starting... just starting to understand Shakespeare.


Southpaw said...

Boy of boy, does this remindme of college and classes devoted to just this topic.

He did have such a way with words!

Ann Elle Altman said...

Yeah, I'm getting high school all over again.


T. Powell Coltrin said...

I love that poem and great interpretation. I love your posts.

Kimberly Franklin said...

Such a lovely post, Ann. Just recently have I actually started to understand Shakespeare. So, I loved hearing your interpretation. : )

Happy Monday!

Ann Elle Altman said...

Journalling woman and Kimberley, I'm glad you like the feature, I spend a great deal of time researching.