Metaphor in Sonnet 5

Metaphor Examples in Sonnet 5:

Sonnet 5 3

"A liquid prisoner pent in walls of glass,..."   (Sonnet 5)

The image of summer’s distillation operates on three levels. On one level, the image is that of a glass vial of rosewater. On another level, the youth’s essence—or “substance”—is trapped forever; he becomes a prisoner watching life carry on outside his confines. On a third level, the very poem itself can be seen as the “walls of glass” which encase the youth. Each line of poetry is a “wall” that must be seen through in order to discover the meaning within. The poem’s meaning, of course, is “liquid”: open to interpretation and change, impossible to pin down.

"summer's distillation..."   (Sonnet 5)

These lines compare the fair youth to a summer rose whose essence is distilled as rosewater. The metaphor of distillation draws on the poem’s nature imagery while touching on the theme of meta-poetics—poetry about poetry. In the shift from summer to winter, the youth’s external form will die. If distilled, however, his essence will live on.

"tyrants..."   (Sonnet 5)

The fair youth’s eyes take on the metaphorical role of “tyrants,” thus becoming both objects and subjects. As representations of his beauty, his eyes draw in the gaze of admirers. In turn, his eyes captivate those same admirers in tyrannical fashion. The sonnets often characterize the youth as cruel, wielding his beauty in malicious ways.