How is the idea of time important in Spenser’s Sonnet 75 and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60? Describe Spenser’s reasons for wanting the object of his affection to live on through the poem and compare it to Shakespeare’s reasons.

The rapid passage of time is of central importance to both Spenser's Sonnet 75 and Shakespeare's Sonnet 60. Spenser wants the object of his affection to live on in the heavenly realm through his verses, whereas, in contrast, Shakespeare wants his beloved to be made immortal in the earthly realm through his poetry.

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Each sonnet is centrally concerned with how quickly time passes and how soon we humans die. Both sonnets use the metaphor of the waves to show how human lives are over almost in a flash. Spenser's speaker compares the speedy passage of time to writing his beloved's name in the...

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Each sonnet is centrally concerned with how quickly time passes and how soon we humans die. Both sonnets use the metaphor of the waves to show how human lives are over almost in a flash. Spenser's speaker compares the speedy passage of time to writing his beloved's name in the sand, only to have the waves come along a few moments later and wipe it away. In the same manner, our lives will be quickly wiped away, his beloved tells him. Likewise, Shakespeare's speaker sees our lives passing as quickly as the waves crash upon the shore, only to be replaced by new waves (or people). Both writers mourn the lightning fast passage of time.

Spenser, however, wants his verses about his beloved to live on in heaven. He says his verses will "eternize" or make eternal her virtues. He will write her "glorious name" in the "heavens." He ends the sonnet by saying that after everything on earth has died, their love will live on in a heavenly sphere:

Where whenas death shall all the world subdue,
Our love shall live, and later life renew.
Shakespeare, in contrast, wants the object of his affection to live on through his words so that she will stay alive and be immortalized in human history, not the eternal realm. He ends his sonnet saying,
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
When he says "to times," Shakespeare's speaker is talking about future times in history, when his beloved is long dead and buried but still remembered by future generations (like us) through his verses. His concern is with the earthly realm, while Spenser's speaker is concerned with the heavenly realm. We might say Shakespeare's aims are more pagan (of earthly immortality) while Spenser's are more Christian (with hopes of reuniting in heaven).
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