What is a summary of Shakespeare's Sonnet LX (60)?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Shakespeare's Sonnet LX is about Time as a destructive force.

This destructiveness of Time is the threat to anything that is temporal. But the speaker contends that the sonnet, composed of written words which he creates, will last through time as testimony to his love.

The opening lines of this sonnet contain a simile that compares Time ("minutes") to the waves that wash upon "the pebbled shore"; each minute replaces the one before. Life moves this way to the end. Using personification, Shakespeare writes that birth "Crawls to maturity," that, once reached, ends in death. Nothing can withstand Time.

Thus, Time is a destructive force because it ages people, and then they die:

Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow;....
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.

Time changes the color in one's cheeks and puts wrinkles in the brow, and the body succumbs to age. However, while Time will take the minutes and wash them away, the sonnet will last to laud the loved one's worth despite the "cruel hand" of Time.

This is the message of Sonnet LX: All things that live will age and die. But poetry will last, so the poet's sonnet will continue to praise the loved one, despite the ravages of Time on all that lives.