Themes in Sonnet 60

Themes Examples in Sonnet 60:

Sonnet 60 6

" being crowned..."   (Sonnet 60)

With this reference to the Christ narrative, the speaker likens “maturity” or adulthood to suffering. However, he also creates an implicit connection with the idea that suffering brings redemption. Unlike the previous sonnets in the sequence that considered aging and maturity a violent tragedy, this sonnet seems to consider aging to maturity a necessary process.

"contend..."   (Sonnet 60)

The words “toil” and “contend” contribute a sense that, along with being relentlessly linear, human life is laborious and competitive. Overall, the opening quatrain espouses a dire perspective: our lives are short, relentless, and full of struggle.

"sequent..."   (Sonnet 60)

The word “sequent” suggests that each human life is part of a successive sequence. Taking into account as well the characterization of human lives as “forwards,” this line describes human life as a narrow, linear march towards death.

"parallels..."   (Sonnet 60)

The third quatrain develops a subtle, extended agricultural metaphor to describe the cycle of human life. On one level, the “parallels” being “delve[d]” in “beauty’s brow” continue the theme of time taking away beauty, with the literal image of an aging face developing wrinkles. On another level, the delving of the parallels also evokes the tilling of fields at the start of the farming season. The cultivation of the soil marks the beginning of the life cycle.

"on youth..."   (Sonnet 60)

Notice that in this poem the speaker is talking about youth as a general theme rather than focusing on his beloved fair youth. Throughout the first three quatrains, when the speaker talks about aging, time, and the fading of youth, it is an abstract concept rather than a concrete reality of his own life.

"flourish..."   (Sonnet 60)

The “flourish set on youth” describes the transient beauty of the young, a favorite theme of Shakespeare’s. Beauty cannot last; eventually time “transfix[es]” it. The word “transfix” is powerful in that it operates metonymically. The notion of transfixion— of piercing—brings to mind flesh, which is where beauty resides.