Literary Devices in Sonnet 106

Literary Devices Examples in Sonnet 106:

Sonnet 106 4

"we..."   (Sonnet 106)

The speaker shifts his pronoun use from “I” to “we,” marking a depersonalization of his relationship with the fair youth. The majority of the Shakespeare’s sonnets are accounts of the personal, private love the speaker holds for the youth. Sonnet 106, however, makes the private public. The fair youth becomes an object for all to praise.

"sing..."   (Sonnet 106)

This condemnation of past poets suggests that it was their lack of skill that prevented them from fully describing the youth’s beauty. The logical turn after this claim is that the speaker is the only poet who can properly sing his praises. However, the poet does not make this claim. He instead focuses on the instability and inadequacy of language rather than trumpeting his own talents.

"Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow..."   (Sonnet 106)

The blazon in line 6 is noticeably gender-neutral in its choice of body parts. While a classic Petrarchan sonnet might describe the beloved’s long, flowing hair or fair breast, Sonnet 106 follows an androgynous list: hands, feet, lips, eyes and brows.

"ladies dead and lovely knights..."   (Sonnet 106)

The speaker understands that his love poetry is unusual in that his subject, the fair youth, is male. He prepares the reader for a repurposing of the blazon tradition with the image of “ladies dead and lovely knights.” The phrase connotes that the tradition of praising ladies is “dead” in favor of “lovely knights”—male objects of desire.