Shakespeares sonnets Sonnet 15 When I consider every thing that grows William

Shakespeare (1599) In this sonnet, the poet begins to immortalize his patron in verse since it seems that Time is going to take him away before any worldly offspring can be born to preserve his heritage upon the earth. The first quatrain (ll. 1-4) presents the poet pondering existence and the shortness of mortal life, even likening the brevity of life to a play on the stage (l. 3). The second quatrain (ll. 5-8) introduces an elaborate simile comparing the stages of plant growth to the stages of human life: youthful vigor, adult decline, and oblivion in old age. The last quatrain (ll. 9-12) emphasizes how the speaker views the addressee—as one who risks squandering their brief youth to the ravages of unrelenting time. In the concluding couplet, the speaker declares himself at war with time: He will assuage the temporal ravages inevitably suffered by the addressee by grafting the immortal verses of the poem to his memory.

This sonnet extends the poet's continuous request: that his patron produce an heir so that his beauty will not be forever lost. Until such time, however, the speaker adopts the tactic of immortalizing the addressee in verse. This situation builds up to a climax in the famous lines of Sonnet 18.

See also Shakespeare, William; Shakespeare's sonnets (overview).

Joseph E. Becker

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