Sunday, 21 February 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday: Sonnet 7

Phoebus in Greek mythology
Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climbed the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage:
But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract, and look another way:
So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon
Unlooked on diest unless thou get a son.

There is a great deal of meaning in this poem. It could compare the sun, which men look upon with wonder as it rises in the east (sunrise) and watch it work it way over the earth. However, as it approaches noon, and the sun beats down heavily upon the earth's occupants, we are forced to look away because of its brightness and from it's zenith or high-point it's only downhill from there, the daylight will soon be gone. Like a human approaching middle age if he doesn't have a child before the end of his prime, people will only look down on him as he approaches death.

1. Look! in the morning when the sun (because, as we know, the sun rises in the East)
2. Rises over every human
3. We pay respects to his appearing in the day
4. By gazing upon it.

5. And by rising into the sky...or advancing in time (the chariot of the sun, driven by Phoebus in Greek mythology, climbs up the steep slope of the sky.)
6. It still remains beautiful even to middle age (midday)
7. We still look upon its beauty
8. As the sun makes his way across the sky.
9. But when it reaches the highest point in the sky (midlife) having used up its useful energy.
10. Like old age, it starts its descent.
11. Our eyes, before in awe, are changed
12. From his lowest point and soon we forget the sun
13. So youth, you will soon pass your prime
14. And die unnoticed unless you have a son.


Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, in age the sun increases in both luminosity and girth, becoming a glorious rosy giant, then feeding upon itself, layer after layer, until it burns away in its own carbon or combusts in a fantastic supernova that regenerates billions of stars.

Shakespeare probably didn't know that. :)

Kidding aside, I actually found the sunrise allegory beautiful.


from the desk of a writer

Ann Elle Altman said...

Corra, I don't even think I knew that about the sun. But, I agree, I do love the sun allegory.