Vocabulary in Sonnet 60

Vocabulary Examples in Sonnet 60:

Sonnet 60 6

"Crooked..."   (Sonnet 60)

“Crooked” suggests the state of being bent in character, twisted, tortured, or malignant. It can also signify being bent by age, having a crooked spine. Within this metaphor, the speaker aligns old age with a corrupt character to suggest that age and time corrupt the glorious innocence of childhood.

"Crawls..."   (Sonnet 60)

The child “crawling” represents the passage of time from birth to adulthood. “Crawls to” suggests that this child is moving towards maturity with purpose; the child intentionally leaves the innocent edenic paradise of the “open main” in order to reach maturity. However, “crawling” also has connotations of slow movement, dragging, or laboring across the ground. This depiction of stunted movement suggests that man’s life is never more glorious than his birth: all actions after birth are labored and crooked.

"Nativity..."   (Sonnet 60)

“Nativity” was the general term used to refer to the birth of a newborn infant. This moment of birth was thought to mark one’s place in reference to astrological influences which could map out one’s destiny. Astrological charts predicting one’s future based on their birth date were called “nativities.” The word “nativity” also has a strong cultural association with the birth of Christ. The following quatrain describes the human life cycle using language with strong religious undertones such as this.

"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.

" minutes hasten ..."   (Sonnet 60)

The word “minutes” takes on two meanings here. On one level, “minutes” works temporally, marking the brevity of human life. “Minute” comes from the latin adjective “minutus,” meaning “small” or, more accurately, “diminished.” Thus, “our minutes” characterizes human lives in terms of their smallness and their state of constant diminishment. This second reading of “minutes” refers back to the pebbles on the shore in the previous line. The pebbles represent humans in their entirely diminished form.

"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.