Shakespeare's Sonnet 19

In his Sonnet 19, Shakespeare presents the timeless theme of Time's mutability.
As the lover apostrophizes Time, one might expect him to address "old Time" as
inconstant, for such an epithet implies time's changeability. But inconstant
also suggests capricious, and the lover finds time more grave than whimsical in
its alterations. With the epithet "devouring" he addresses a greedy, ravenous
hunger, a Time that is wastefully destructive.

Conceding to Time its wrongs, the lover at first appears to encourage Time to
satisfy its insatiable appetite. Indeed, he familiarly addresses Time as "thou"
as he commands it harshely to "blunt, n "make the earth devour, n "pLuck," and
"burn." Not onLy ...

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and sorry seasons. n For the first time one sees Time in
other than a destructive capacity--in its cycLical change of seasons, some Time
does "make glad" with blooming sweets. So the lover changes his epithet from
devouring to swift-footed, certainly more neutral in tone. For now the lover
makes his most assertive command: "But I forbid thee one most heinous crime. n
The final quatrain finds the lover ordering Time to stay its antic "antique
pen" from aging or marring his love. It is a heinous crime to carve and draw
lines on youth and beauty. ere the Lover no Longer speaks with forceful
pLosives; his speech, for all the appearance of imperative command, sounds more
Like a plea or earnest request.

The poet-lover changes his pleaful tone to one of scorn as he finally orders
"Yet do thy worst, old Time. Time is no longer devouring or swift-footed,
merely old. And age as Time will, the lover realizes "My love shall in my verse
ever live young." Shakespeare eludes swift-footed ...

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Shakespeare's Sonnet 19. (2004, May 6). Retrieved February 23, 2019, from
"Shakespeare's Sonnet 19.", 6 May. 2004. Web. 23 Feb. 2019. <>
"Shakespeare's Sonnet 19." May 6, 2004. Accessed February 23, 2019.
"Shakespeare's Sonnet 19." May 6, 2004. Accessed February 23, 2019.
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Added: 5/6/2004 06:08:59 AM
Category: Poetry & Poets
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 387
Pages: 2

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