Shakespeare Sonnet 106 Analysis: When in the chronicle of wasted time

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 106. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets.

Shakespeare Sonnet 106 (Original Text)

When in the chronicle of wasted time
I see descriptions of the fairest wights
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,
Then in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,
Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,
I see their ántique pen would have expressed
Ev’n such a beauty as you master now.
So all their praises are but prophecies
Of this our time, all you prefiguring,
And for they looked but with divining eyes,
They had not skill enough your worth to sing.
For we which now behold these present days,
Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.
-WIKI

Shakespeare Sonnet 106 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 106 Modern English Translation

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 106 Analysis

The poet says that when he reads the records of history, “When in the chronicle of wasted time” he sees the description of fair and beautiful people “I see descriptions of the fairest wights” and how they have inspired beautiful poems written about them “And beauty making beautiful old rhyme” praising beautiful ladies who are now dead and beautiful knights “In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights,”

When he reads the poetry that commemorated their beauty “Then in the blazon of sweet beauty’s best,” praising every part of their body likes their hands and feet “Of hand, of foot, of lip, of eye, of brow,” he realizes that those ancient poets were actually trying to express “I see their ántique pen would have expressed” the same nature of beauty that the poet sees in the fair lord “Ev’n such a beauty as you master now.”

And the praises of ancient poetry are actually prophecies “So all their praises are but prophecies “that foretell the present time of the poet and the existence of the fair lord if this our time, all you prefiguring,” but though they could foresee the future “And for they looked but with divining eyes,” they did not possess the poetic skill to create the perfect raise about the youth “They had not skill enough your worth to sing.”

And for those who live now in the present “For we which now behold these present days,” can see beauty and wonder at it yet lack the skill to praise it as it should be praised.”Have eyes to wonder, but lack tongues to praise.”

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