Immortality And Death In Shakespeare's Sonnet 55

1488 Words6 Pages
Sonnet 55 Shakespeare writes about love as an intricate and complex force that we see presented in varying forms from erotic to platonic. I will discuss the themes of time, immortality and death as they pertain to Sonnet 55. The sonnet falls between a series of poems, 1-126 that are addressed to a ‘Fair Young Man’ and is one of the closest explorations of ‘agape’ or selfless and unconditional love as we see throughout the sonnets. Sonnet 55 reads as an in-depth exploration of the maxim ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. It is addressed to an unnamed lover of no particular gender specification and thus imbued with a tension of anonymity even as the speaker- the poet or lover- confesses a desire to immortalise them. The sonnet discusses…show more content…
Meditations of time and change and their effects on beauty as well as the power of literature to stand against time. This is seen first as reproduction as, in sonnets 1-19 as Shakespeare urges a beautiful man to marry and procreate to preserve his beauty. For example sonnet 18; “…Thy eternal summer shall not fade… when in eternal lines to time thou growest.” And later as the power of poetry to mitigate the destructive nature of time against youth and memory. To generationally ensure the survival of the “darling buds of May.” Beauty which death cannot touch and time cannot erode. The object of the speaker’s devotion has been granted eternity by virtue of the lover who beholds them and whose words seek to encapsulate and commemorate them. It is a literary monument in and of itself. “Not marble or the gilded monuments/of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme” (55.1-2). The speaker uses declarative statements and the language used evokes monarchical imagery that conjures for the audience the grandeur and gravity of the statement he is making. Neither wealth nor power has the ability to preserve the human spirit the way poetry can. It survives “‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity” (55.9). The speaker believes that neither death, nor the oblivion of history shall consume their Beloved. To be forgotten is the enemy of immortality and by penning this verse the poet is taking arms against a sea of troubles to ensure their lover’s immortality. “Even in the eyes of all posterity/That wear this world out to the ending doom.” (55.11-12) The speaker makes allusion to a third manner of immortality by causing us to think eschatologically and alluding to Christian or Biblical beliefs about eternal life in reference to a day ofjudgement. “So, till the judgement that yourself arise” (55.

More about Immortality And Death In Shakespeare's Sonnet 55

Open Document