Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's Sonnets book cover
Start Your Free Trial

In "Sonnet 12" by Shakespeare, how does he show the passing of time in the poem?    

Expert Answers info

Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write6,427 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Shakespeare shows the passage of time by referring to "count[ing] the clock" (line 1) and addressing the "brave day sunk in hideous night" (line 2). Thus, he lets us know that time is passing, and day turns to night as the time goes by. The "violet [is] past [its] prime," meaning that its bloom has begun to fade as its season ends (line 3), and black hair becomes "all silvered o'er with white," referring to dark hair that turns gray with age (line 4). The trees become "barren of leaves," further indicating the passage of the season (line 5), and "summer's green [is] all girded up in sheaves" when the harvest is finally brought in during the fall season (line 7).

Old people with "white and bristly beard[s]" also pass away and are laid out on their funeral biers (line 8). The...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 430 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

accessteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write13,728 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

check Approved by eNotes Editorial