Shakespeare Sonnet 123 Analysis: No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change

Shakespeare Sonnet 123 Analysis, theme, summary and modern english translation

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 123. 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 123 (Original Text)

No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change.
Thy pyramids built up with newer might
To me are nothing novel, nothing strange;
They are but dressings of a former sight.
Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire
What thou dost foist upon us that is old,
And rather make them born to our desire
Than think that we before have heard them told.
Thy registers and thee I both defy,
Not wond’ring at the present nor the past;
For thy recórds and what we see doth lie,
Made more or less by thy continual haste.
This I do vow and this shall ever be:
I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 123 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 123 Modern English translation

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Shakespeare Sonnet 123 Analysis

The poet tells time that he cannot boast that he has changed the poet “No! Time, thou shalt not boast that I do change.” Because nothing is new to him not even the new architecture of large buildings with new methods of building “Thy pyramids built up with newer might” to him nothing seems new or strange “To me are nothing novel, nothing strange; because they are just replicas of the past “They are but dressings of a former sight.”

He says man’s life is short which is why we admire “Our dates are brief, and therefore we admire” things that time forces upon man which are also old “What thou dost foist upon us that is old” and as such man has to pretend such things were made for us “And rather make them born to our desire” instead of admitting that these have been heard and seen before “Than think that we before have heard them told.”

He tells time that he defies its records and time itself “Thy registers and thee I both defy,” by not bothering about the present nor regretting about the past “Not wond’ring at the present nor the past;” because he says that time is a liar where records(years) are concerned and whatever he sees around him is also a lie “For thy recórds and what we see doth lie,” He says this lie is increased by time that passes swiftly “Made more or less by thy continual haste.” (the poet is implying that time flies so fast that it gives us things in the world to admire but because life is short, it seems instead that life was an illusion or lie)

He says he promises that he will always think this way “This I do vow and this shall ever be” that he is the only thing that remains true for people because of his poetry that last forever in spite of times scythe of death and time itself “I will be true, despite thy scythe and thee.”

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