Vocabulary in Sonnet 106

Vocabulary Examples in Sonnet 106:

Sonnet 106 5

"divining eyes, ..."   (Sonnet 106)

“Divining” means to have supernatural or magical insight into future events. This metaphor connects the eyes of the ancient poets to the speaker’s gaze on the youth. All of their perceptions of their individual love objects were moments in which they would peer into the future and witness the true beauty of the youth.

"prefiguring..."   (Sonnet 106)

The speaker uses “prefiguring” in both its connotative and literal meanings. Generally, to prefigure is to imagine an a future outcome or event. Tracing its Latin etymology, however, “prefigure” stems from the verb “figurare,” which means to create a representation of an object. In the context of Sonnet 106, this use of the word suggests that past poets were predicting the fair youth but also, more literally, depicting him in advance.

"master..."   (Sonnet 106)

“Master” is conspicuously the male form of “mistress.” Thus the use of “master” underscores the unusual nature of the poem. While a typical blazon describes the poet’s mistress, a female character, the subject of the sonnets is the male youth. The speaker keeps this reversal of “mistress” subtle by using “master” in its verb form.

"wights..."   (Sonnet 106)

“Wights” are supernatural spirits or fairies. By “wights,” the speaker refers to the subjects of Petrarchan love poetry, the ethereal women to whom poets would sing praises. However, a “wight” also means a person who is regarded as unfortunate. The double meaning of this word hints at the later turn in the poem where the speaker claims that all previous love objects were but incarnations of his own beloved.

"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.