Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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Extract and explain the use of imagery in Shakespeare's Sonnet 2.

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Interestingly, Shakespeare's Sonnet 2 hinges on imagery that has a dual meaning. In the first line, his use of the powerful verb "besiege" brings to mind the military imagery of an army attempting to breach the wall of a city or castle. This is how time attacks the beauty of youth. The imagery continues in line 2 with the "deep trenches" that conjure a picture of the ditches an invading army would dig. These deep trenches are the wrinkles on the aging face. Furthermore in line 3, with "livery," it suggests a soldier's uniform.

However, the poem interweaves wartime imagery with agricultural imagery. In line 2, "beauty's field" can be a battlefield, but when the "tattered weed" of line 4 appears, it brings to mind a farmer's field, and the "trenches" become cultivated rows.

From there, the poem moves on to employ the imagery of finance. The youth's beauty, which will become nothing but a "tattered weed" by the time he reaches the age of forty, will be of but "small worth." One thinks of a...

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