In poetry about the brevity of human life in general, the ancient poets and their renaissance English imitators (sonneteers) harped on themes of Carpe diem and Carpe florem. The former means seizing or enjoying the day and the latter, gathering the flowers before they fade and fall. In the sonnets of Shakespeare such sentiments do not find and place at all. This is due perhaps to Shakespeare’s addressing a male beauty in place of a coy mistress as in other sonneteers. The ancients and their imitating sonneteers who were Shakespeare predecessors or compeers in fact sought for the co – operation of Time by submitting to temporal condition, by making most of the day while the sun shines (Carpe diem) and gathering the flowers of youth and beauty (Carpe florem) while they still were fresh and fragrant. Shakespeare will have none of this collaboration with his great enemy, Time and in this respect he may be taken as this most uncompromising of idealists in the whole range of world literature. Read More William Shakespeare While the ancients and their imitators tried to defy Time in their poetry about poetry, Shakespeare speaks of Time as an enemy to be defied without making any concessions to its temporal power and sway and submitting to its ordained laws of mutability. He makes no distinction like the ancients between Time that destroys might monuments and Time that transfixes the flourish set on youth; for him the total and complete alldevouringness of Time and its swiftfootedness are continually and inseparable associated with his ever – changing series of variation or even dramatizations, of the great single theme of transience. And what emerges from all these Shakespearean meditations or transience is not any moral but the problem or question of how to preserve the victims of Time from the clutches of Time. Read More William Shakespeare His prescriptions are marriage, perpetuation of the race by happy marriage transcendental love and the celebration of that love by the poet’s immortal verse, and the eternal theme of compensation.
As we have seen in the first 17 sonnets, the poet frantically urges his fair friend to marry and beget children so as to get a fair face from fair. Read More William Shakespeare That is how the poet thinks, time’s ravages can be conquered biological perpetuation. Marriage, of course, is based on sexual love but the love of the poet for his young patron is a sexual and has a mysterious quality about it, which makes that love a transcendental affair. This transcendental love again is celebrated though the immortal verse of the poet and the theme of compensation, which together Impose on that love a quality that defies time.
The true marriage of minds, which is his eternal love, is expressed by Shakespeare in his immortal verse which seeks to immortalize the object of the poet’s love. It is the great theme of poetry as perpetuation. There arises from these sonnets a strong conviction that it is in and though poetry alone that somethings more of us than our material selves will survive the ravages of tyrant Time. Read More William Shakespeare There are about 28 sonnets on the perpetuation theme and this is a topic which has been dealt with in European poetry from Pindar onwards. However, it is difficult to find Shakespeare’s parallels from other poets on this kindred topic or upon variations of this theme. The sonnets of Shakespeare in this category are those
We should end this discussion about Shakespeare’s attempt to master the problem of time with the almost religious theme of compensation, which has few parallels in literature except in some of Donne’s religious poetry. Read More William Shakespeare Love as compensation is a theme that adds a mystic dimension to Shakespeare’s poetic attempt to defy Time and the sonnets under this category, two of which (25, 29) are among his very finest, are qualitatively different from the sonnets written in absentia or after the loss of the beloved, which can be branded as the catalogue of uncompensated delights. This compensating theme is sung with almost religious fervour in immortal poetry and it purpose to say that: