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    Looking at Sonnet 12 by William Shakespeare and I Look into my Glass by Thomas Hardy Essay

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    First of all the most obvious theme in these poems is time. The poem Sonnet 12 is set in the 16th century and was written by Shakespeare. I Look into My Glass was written in 1898 by Thomas Hardy. These two poems are both quite dark and depressing. In I Look into My Glass is about a person who is suffering from the affects of time. We learn this because he tells us by saying that he looks in to his mirror his “glass”. In the rest of the poem he attracts the reader’s attention by focusing on himself and his looks.

    In the second line he describes a bit of himself, “And view my wasting skin”, suggesting that his skin is old and wrinkled which suggests that he is old. In the third line the persona describes how he is disappointed at how he looks he describes it through a prayer, “Would God it came to pass”, “My heart had shrunk as thin” This presents him as a very sad person who is almost begging for God to help him. Moreover he also conveys a feeling of loneliness through the same words, this time the persona is focusing on his feelings rather than his looks.

    In the next verse then again the persona talks about his loneliness which is portrayed through the words, “By hearts grown cold to me”. He also mentions the word “equanimity” in the next line which creates an atmosphere of even temper which links in with his loneliness. This implies that he is not angry about this but more depressed about it. He wishes he could accept how people how people have deserted him but he can’t. The next verse shows Hardy personifying time.

    In the third line he mentions how, “Shakes my fragile frame at eve” which emphasises the point that he is weak and old, “fragile frame” meaning his weak bones and body. He draws a mental picture of him with the words which amplify his outward looks. Hardy in this verse tells us that his looks have been sucked out by Time. He personifies time like a thief. He does this because something untouchable can be described much better as a person therefore more aggressive and better effects are achieved, in this instance at least. So he describes “Time” as a person as a stealer, someone sucking life away.

    Sonnet 12 by William Shakespeare is about him trying to explain how time affects nature and other things. Firstly we find this out when Shakespeare talks about the power of day and night which is like death if it is compared. He conveys this through words in the second line, “And see the brave day sunk in the hideous night”. These words “Brave day” meaning life and “sunk” meaning life being swallowed by the hideous night which could represent death. That line also suggests that night is parallel to day and creates balance.

    It describes the change over of day and night and how one always replaces the other. In the third line he implies how even flowers are not the same as they used to be and that this is permanent, he presents this by saying,” When I behold the violet past prime”. Secondly, in the next line Shakespeare brings in the idea of some contrast between old people and young ones, with the words, “And sable curls, all silvered o’er with white”. The words silvered and white draw a mental picture of parallel between people with white hair and dark hair.

    This suggests that old people have old white hair and younger people have dark hair. This implies that when you get older you hair colour goes white and you can’t do anything about it. So in these four lines Shakespeare describes the existence of life, death and power. In the next four lines Shakespeare talks about nature. He talks about how it has been affected by time. He mentions that they are not the same as they used to be. First of all he depicts things not being the same as they used to be through the words, “When lofty trees I see barren of leaves”.

    This implies that the big trees have no leaves anymore. In the seventh line he then links Time and nature with food that has been made by nature and how all the crops have been collected because the factor time has affected them. Shakespeare evokes this by saying, “And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves”. This suggests that summer has gone and its goods have been collected. In the next four lines Shakespeare talks about his part of life being affected by time. Firstly he talks about his own woman being affected by time then other women.

    He says, “Then of thy beauty do I question make” This focuses on his woman, meaning that sooner or later even his beautiful woman will have her looks sucked away by the powerful time. In the eleventh line Shakespeare mentions that all people that are born are doomed to the effects of time straight away. He represents this by saying, “Since sweets and beauties do them selves forsake”, “And die as fast as they see others grow”. This also emphasises that Time is a fast killer, that it affects you quickly, that it changes you quickly and makes you die quickly.

    In the next two lines he personifies time and this couplet, rhymes and sums up the final point of the poem. In those two lines the persona says that you can’t fight against time or his weapon the Scythe and that the only means of defence against is to reproduce. He displays this through words “breed, to brave him when takes thee hence”. He personifies time in these two lines because you can describe time much better as a person rather than a thing. Shakespeare draws “time” to make him look like a powerful evil person which has a destructive weapon the scythe.

    These two lines finish off very well because in the above lines he describes what time is and then and the end he personifies him and gives him a little detail and shape. The poem I Look into My Glass is a just a poem following the pattern A, B, A, B… and it is written in quatrains. It is quite a fast sounding poem and its structure and pace link in with the theme, time, which is the key. The speed suggests that time is fast, attacks quickly and that it is a destructive thing. Where as Sonnet 12 is a Shakespearian sonnet. At the end it has a couplet which rhymes and these two last lines sum up the poem.

    The main body of the poem is twelve lines, the first eight concentrating on nature and the next four on his love. This links in with the theme, time, and suggests that different things get affected differently and at different speeds. Furthermore, the couplets at the end, sum up all these things and this creates an affect of a faster rhyme which finishes off the poem well and gives out a positive feel. The comparison between these two poems I think are that first of all the poets take a different attitude to the looks of beauty.

    Shakespeare when he talks about it he talks about it in general involving all people. In contrast, Hardy talks about himself mainly which creates sympathy for his plight from the reader. Another one is that the structures of the poems are different. One similar thing they do is that they both create similar atmospheres which are sad and regretful, though there is no shred of hope conveyed at all in Hardy’s poem. Shakespeare treats time as killer, as death with his scythe and that he is preparing to kill you from the moment you are born.

    He uses dark and depressing words to make a scary atmosphere. His layout of the poem evokes different speeds, each section showing time acting differently which is a great idea I think makes the poem more interesting and makes you think more after you have read each section. Thomas Hardy uses a different layout in his poem and it is focused on him which creates a sad and depressing atmosphere. Moreover, he uses sad words to emphasise this. Both of the poets treat time as a bad thing and don’t mention anything good that it does.

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    Looking at Sonnet 12 by William Shakespeare and I Look into my Glass by Thomas Hardy Essay. (2017, Oct 19). Retrieved from

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