Metaphor in Sonnet 116

Metaphor Examples in Sonnet 116:

Sonnet 116 6

"bends with the remover..."   (Sonnet 116)

This line further criticizes the attempts lovers make to change their beloveds. The word “bends” suggests that the desire to “remove” is metaphorically crooked. The remover—the false lover—“bends” to a lower state of morality.

" rosy lips and cheeks ..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Rosy lips and cheeks” can also be read as an allusion to Cupid, the childlike, winged god of love. Cupid is the god of desire, erotic love, and attraction. In this metaphor, the speaker distinguishes his love, the marriage of true minds, from this ephemeral physical love. He does this to assert that his love is everlasting, not subject to time’s “sickle” as physical attraction is.

"osy lips and cheeks ..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Rosy lips and cheeks” is metaphor that evokes temporal youth and beauty. Like the flower that dies in winter, youth and beauty are ephemeral, subject to the ravages of time.

"worth's unknown..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Worth’s unknown” can be read as a positive or negative characterization of this love. It could be read as “unknown” because it defies the boundaries of physical restraints, such as measurement and human language. However, it could also be read as “unknown” because it is unattainable: no one has ever achieved this ideal love, this “mark,” and thus no one knows what it is.

"height be taken..."   (Sonnet 116)

“Height be taken” refers to a navigation tool in which seafarers would measure the height of the pole-star and calculate their latitude. This allusion read in conjunction with “whose worth’s unknown” suggests a distinction between physical and figurative measurements: while the height of the star can be calculated, its actual distance is boundless. The star is therefore metaphorically beyond worth, beyond calculation; it exists outside physical systems that could give it a relative value.

"and'ring bark, ..."   (Sonnet 116)

By “wand’ring bark” the speaker means a ship on the sea using the stars as tools for navigation. The second quatrain uses these navigation metaphors to portray the Love (which consists of a marriage between true minds) as guiding all other types of love.