Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Shakespeare once again, uses vivid imagery to show the fading of our lives

Commentary on Sonnet 146 Shawn September 4th, 2007
This poem is a typical Shakespearean sonnet consisting of three quatrains and a couplet. However, what makes this sonnet so unique and meaningful to me is the imagery and metaphors created by the diction. Shakespeare managed to create vivid images that strikes my heart as well as my mind which proves it to be a meaningful and creative piece that allows us to ponder about ourselves.
Line 11, “buy terms divine in selling hours of dross” is slowed down with the slight difference in scansion for words “in selling”, this causes us to have a slight pause when we come to that part. It also sounds smooth because of the slight consonance sound of “s” in “hours of dross”. The use of this sound makes the line serious and gloom at the mention of dross. When I read it, I feel the speaker’s feelings of loss and how s/he wants to change the way of living because the current life we have is worthless. What we all have now would be nothing when we are devoured by death. So the use of “dross” was significant and well placed to give me such an emotion. Shakespeare further emphasizes the importance of “sinful earth” by repetition in line one and line two; the word “My” starts of the second line and we read it with a stronger tone because of the repetition as well as the iambic pentameter which causes “my” to be in a more emphasized tone. This word reflects the image of ourselves once again as the speaker states this “earth” to be owned by ourselves, and we have a responsibility to keep this “earth” well, yet it isn’t.
The structure of this poem is a little interesting because it is placed in such a way where the speaker talks about his/her “soul” which is within, then slowly moving out into the exterior “walls” then the big “mansion”. Thus the structure of this poem influences the strong imagery it gives. The structure slowly reveals to us the “soul” which resides beneath the “walls” which are part of a “mansion”. This makes the imagery sink into our head deeply as we gradually would understand how this metaphoric “body” of ourselves work. Since this is a poem which tells us about our lives and how we should respond to it, Shakespeare did a good job on structuring the poem so that we can understand the basis of our life, and then move on to the more religious areas of the sonnet which talks about hours of dross and divine hours which we can benefit from. In a way, it is as if the speaker is showing us a house, from the inside out, to see how our inner self is and how our outer self is. It is also interesting to note the amount of questions raised in the lines 4, 6 and 8. Just like how a real estate agent does, the speaker asks of our thoughts on this subject. Though in the poem the speaker asks him/herself, the questions are really for the reader to answer. This affected me because when we are interacting with the poem, we will really start to think about the proposed questions. Are our bodies really just for the worms to consume in the end? Is this life? Placing these questions then answering them right after replies the questions in the beginning, which we are pondering about. This shows the carefully planned structure that interacts as well as stimulates our minds as we read through this poem.
The most important metaphor is “my sinful earth” mentioned in line one. It is an interesting metaphor of ourselves; earth represents the place we live in. From seeing the first two words of the sonnet “poor soul”, we can assume that the soul resides in this earth. The words “poor” and “sinful” are both negative words, which show us, what the speaker is thinking about. “Poor” gives us a feeling of pity towards a subject; in this case, we will pity the “soul” residing in this “earth”. This proves that the “earth” in this sonnet is a bad place, and the speaker describes this “earth” as “sinful” which can be linked to ungodliness, which is what the sonnet’s topic is about. Thus we can see that this “sinful earth” is in fact, ourselves, we are not perfect and therefore, we are sinful and not righteous. Line 11, “buy terms divine in selling hours of dross” is the line, which makes me feel inspired. This line is a good way of showing how we can become more moral rather than starving our soul in our “sinful earth”. This line makes the idea of Christianity living very easy to grasp as it portray it in a business manner where we exchange divine hours with “hours of dross” which is our worthless time spent on earth. The line after this is the image of feeding “within” which is referring to our inner self, our soul. In Christianity this is known as our spiritual food, which is meditation on the bible so that we are able to have better judgments and morals. Another imagery we have is of a mansion and its walls. Line 4 says “Painting thy outward walls so costly gay?” This refers to the decorating of us, the walls representing our outer body. This tends to be true as we do spend on ourselves and we do spend on our houses. Yet, we understand that we are spending all our time and effort for something with “so short a lease”. Just like our houses, we will be gone eventually, and all that we have done will be for nothing when we enter our new house, or end physically. Thus what the speaker is trying to convey is the short life span of life, this can also be observed by “fading mansion” in line six. The word fade indicates discolor of the mansion and this gives an idea of dullness of color in our lives.
Shakespeare once again, uses vivid imagery to show the fading of our lives and make us understand that life isn’t long. What we do to ourselves will not last forever, eventually it will become dull. The metaphors gives me a sense of emptiness when I think about how we act as humans, though we are civilized and intelligent, we still neglect basic morals and will always be flawed. When reading through this poem I found myself pondering about one’s existence and what will happen after the death of us, though the speaker does answer the question on our existence religiously, un-religiously speaking it still proposes that we make the best use of our time and work on our soul instead of our external self. This idea can be related to every reader and we will always find truth in it. Sonnet 146 is undeniably a sonnet that works well and creates a strong message for everyone. Sonnets , Shawn Trackback URI Comments RSS

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