Sonnet 65 by Williams Shakespeare

Sonnet65 by Williams Shakespeare

Sonnet65 was written by the poet and playwright William Shakespeare aftersonnet 64. In this particular sonnet, he lays emphasis on the themeof time’s destruction. The poem is structured in such a manner thatthings that are prone to destruction are presented at the beginningof the sonnet while things that can stand the test of time, such asthe black ink, are presented towards the end of the sonnet. Mostimportantly, the author is trying to show that there are many thingsin the world, which are so powerful but they cannot remain inexistence forever, more so a fleeting emotion, for instance, love.The issue of mortality is presented in a vivid manner: everything inthe world is perishable, except the art of writing, which istimeless. Therefore, it is only through writing that beauty andemotion can be preserved. The poet says, “That in black ink my lovemay still shine bright.”

HelenVendler, a Shakespearean scholar, believes the author’s intentionin the sonnet is to reveal time as a natural force that no one isimmune to. She opines that Shakespeare shows how it is easy forbeauty to be destroyed or to fade away over time. William comparesbeauty with the sea, the earth, a stone, and the brass metal, whichare more durable than beauty. He says, “Since brass, nor stone, norearth, nor boundless sea” (Edmondsonand Wells 14).

Inline three of the sonnet, mortality is presented as the greatestenemy of beauty. It is a rage working against beauty: “How withthis rage shall beauty hold a plea?” The strength of beauty is toofeeble to an extent it is compared to that of a flower: “Whoseaction is no stronger than a flower?” Similarly, in the secondquatrain, the writer goes on to compare beauty with a less durablething: “summer’s honey breath that is in a wreckful siege ofbattering days.”

StephenBooth reiterates that Shakespeare was bringing the concept of timeinto reality by using various examples in real life. Booth believesthe poet repeats an idea in a crafty way to deliver his message. Forinstance, Booth notes that author mentions the earth in the firstline of the sonnet, however, in the subsequent lines it isrepresented as rocks. Similarly, the brass alluded in the first lineis represented as steel in the eighth line: “Nor gates of steel sostrong.” None of these strong things can withstand time’scorrosive and battering force. Therefore, the poet reveals howresistance to time is in vain, and that natural things are always inbattle with a force, but nothing survives (Schoenfeldt4).

Inthe third quatrain, Beauty is represented as a jewel, and the writerexpresses feeling of onslaught about time: “O fearful meditation!”Similarly, time is compared to a swift athlete whose foot cannot berestrained: “Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?”Consequently, Shakespeare portrays beauty as a helpless, doomedvictim of time. However, at the end of the sonnet, he tries to showthe importance of written works. The written word is the only thingin the sonnet that the writer believes can overcome time’sannihilating power. This is because his words have a miraculousability to show beauty’s splendor without being affected by theissue of time.


Edmondson,Paul, and Stanley Wells. Shakespeare`ssonnets.OUP Oxford, 2004. Print.

Schoenfeldt,Michael. Acompanion to Shakespeare`s sonnets.John Wiley &amp Sons, 2010. Print.