Sonnet 19

In Sonnet 19, the speaker wages war against time itself. Distressed at the thought of the fair youth being subject to the ravages of time, the speaker pleads for time to spare his beloved. In his lovestruck state, the speaker resists the necessity of time: while time brings death, it also brings new life. Thus the speaker views the cycles of nature in a negative light, lamenting that “earth devour[s] her own sweet brood.” In his struggle, the speaker attempts to bring the abstraction of time down to his level, and personifies it as a fellow artist and writer. Poetry becomes the medium of conflict, the sonnet itself the speaker’s assault against time. Shakespeare understands the speaker’s futility, and willfully undermines the power of the verse throughout its lines. Sonnet 19’s flaws are self-conscious, and work towards the subtle goal of exposing the speaker’s folly.

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