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Allusion in Sonnet 60
Allusion Examples in Sonnet 60:
"crowned..." See in text (Sonnet 60)
“Crown’d” once again evokes the Christ narrative. Leading up to his crucifixion, Christ was inflicted with mockery and torture by Roman soldiers. They placed a crown of thorns on his head to mockingly crown him the “King of the Jews.” Though it was a intended to cause pain and humiliation, the crown has come to represent two things for Christians. First, that Christ is indeed king of man worthy of all our praise; and second, that he was willing to suffer for us in order to redeem our souls. The crown of thorns has come to represent all suffering and the redemption that comes with suffering.
"scythe..." See in text (Sonnet 60)
The symbol of the “scythe” in this line weaves together multiple metaphorical threads. The scythe maintains the agrarian imagery of the third quatrain. It also alludes to Chronos, the Greco-Roman god of time—Chronos is the origin of “chronology.” This allusion casts time in a distinctly negative light, for Chronos, with his scythe, represents time in all of its destructive force. Finally, on the level of imagery, the curved scythe brings to mind again the symbols of crookedness and eclipses found in the second quatrain.
"transfix..." See in text (Sonnet 60)
The image of time “transfix[ing]”—or stabbing—serves as a final reference to Christ. The direct allusion is to a passage from John which describes the crucifixion: “Instead, one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear” (John, 35). This allusion reinforces the metaphor of each human life as a Christlike journey from a state of perfection at birth to inevitable destruction.
"Time that gave..." See in text (Sonnet 60)
“Time that gave” is an allusion to the Biblical quote “The lord giveth and the lord taketh away” (Job 1:21). Within this allusion, Time is aligned with God, the giver and destroyer of all things. Unlike its depiction in the previous sonnets in the sequence, Time is no longer seen as an enemy that is blamed for stealing and devouring youth, but an entity that can “give.” The speaker takes on a more rational view of time, acknowledging its necessity, in spite of the tragedy it brings. The speaker will turn away from this rationalization as the poem comes to a close.