Shakespeare Sonnet 60 Analysis, Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore

Shakespeare Sonnet 60 : Analysis, theme, and translation


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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 60. 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 60 (Original Text)

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end,
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned,
Crooked eclipses ‘gainst his glory fight,
And time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow;
Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.

Shakespeare Sonnet 60 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 60 Modern text translation

Shakespeare Sonnet 60 Analysis

In comparing the journey of life to waves, the poet says just like waves make their way to a pebbled shore, “waves make towards the pebbled shore” the same way the minutes of our lives tick slowly towards death. “minutes hasten to their end;” Every wave moves forward “changing place with that which goes before” replacing the one in front of it like a well defined and continuous march “sequent toil all forwards do contend.”

He compares life like a sun who when rises “Nativity shines brightly main of light” and when it reaches its zenith “Crawls to maturity “remains high up “ like a king being crown’d,” but just like life’s problems, the sun too is challenged by eclipses “crooked eclipses” trying to shade its glory “gainst his glory fight” and time which gave the sun its nadir “and Time that gave” also brings clouds to mask it from view “now his gift confound.”

In the same way, Time also overshadows “Time doth transfix” the perfection of looks in our youth “flourish set on youth” and starts aging him with wrinkles in his face. “parallels in beauty’s brow,” Time also eats away at whatever nature perfects “ feeds on the rarities of nature’s” and wastes away everything in its ravaging path “his scythe to mow:”

But yet he hopes that his verses will stand the test of time “yet to times in hope my verse shall stand” and will continue to praise the beauty of the fair youth “Praising thy worth”, despite times cruelty “despite his cruel hand.”

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