Themes in Sonnet 106

Themes Examples in Sonnet 106:

Sonnet 106 3

"lack tongues to praise...."   (Sonnet 106)

The poem’s final phrase, the concession that “we… lack tongues to praise” the fair youth in all his beauty, expresses one of the central themes of the sonnet sequence: the shortcomings of language. While the speaker often boasts of the power of his verse, there are many sonnets in which he laments his inability to do justice to the fair youth’s perfection.

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

Here, “sweet beauty’s best” takes the form of this catalogue of physical parts: hands, feet, lips, eyes, and brows. While these are common tropes within love poetry, these items are surprisingly gender neutral because of their lack of physical comparison. With this move, the speaker foreshadows his later claim, that language lacks the power to describe or truly praise pure beauty—a single word cannot get at the essence of the object, it can only approximate the essence by using metaphors.

"wasted..."   (Sonnet 106)

“Wasted time” takes on two meanings here. It signifies both that this time has passed and that the time was used poorly. This suggests that the endeavors of ancient writers, who we will later find out are those who wrote love poetry, were a waste of time. The speaker will go on to claim that these writers did not have the skills or the proper object to describe.