Shakespeare Sonnet 19, Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws

Shakespeare Sonnet 19, Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws


This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 19. 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.
Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleet’st,
And do whate’er thou wilt, swift-footed time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O carve not with thy hours my love’s fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine ántique pen.
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty’s pattern to succeeding men.
Yet do thy worst, old Time; despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.

Shakespeare Sonnet 19 Analysis

In sonnet 19 Shakespeare uses animal imagery to describe how time steals everything “Devouring Time even animals age” with the lion’s claws growing blunt with time. “blunt thou the lion’s paws” He says all beautiful things on earth die “earth devour her own sweet brood;”

Time also makes tigers toothless “teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws and the phoenix (A mythological firebird) burn up in its own blood “long-liv’d phoenix, in her blood;”

He then tells time he can continue the change of seasons “glad and sorry seasons “and do whatever it wants “do whate’er thou wilt” to age world and its beauty “world and all her fading sweets” But he forbids time to do one thing “I forbid thee” calling it a crime “most heinous crime”

He says time should not age “carve not with thy hours” his lover’s beauty “my love’s fair brow” nor create wrinkles on his forehead “draw no lines there” but allow him to retain his beauty “untainted do allow” so future generations of men can admire him “beauty’s pattern to succeeding men”.

In the couplet he challenges time to do his worst, “do thy worst, old Time” and age his lover even though it is wrong “despite thy wrong” because it will not have any effect as his poetry will immortalize his lover’s youth and beauty “My love shall in my verse ever live young”

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