This famous sonnet concerns a theme which is explored through many different sonnets by various authors, such as Shakespeare himself. The subject of this sonnet concerns the speaker's attempts to immortalise the object of his affections, his beloved. The sonnet starts with his early abortive attempts, that nature seems to be set against, as he writes the name of his beloved on the sand of the shore, but on the two occasions he does this, the waves and the tide wash it away. The beloved herself is shown to remonstrate with the speaker, trying to make him sea that it is foolishness and impossible to immortalise a mortal being, as she herself will die and decay and be remembered no more. The speaker's response is to comment on how she will live "by fame":
"My verse your vertues rare shall eternize,
And in the heavens wryte your glorious name.
Where whenas death shall all the world subdew,
Our love shall live, and later life renew."
Through this poem and the art of the speaker, the beloved can defy her fate and never be forgotten, as through poetry the speaker can write her name, just as he did on the sand, but this time in "the heavens." This will immortalise their love and give it the power to outlive death. This poem thus shows us that immortality can be achieved through poetry.
Spenser's sonnet no. 75, taken from his celebrated sonnet sequence "Amoretti", is a proof of a deep and passionate exprssion of a highly sensitive mind. The subject matter of the sonnet is the much treated theme of 15th century-verse triumphing over time and death. But Spenser gives a freshness to this theme. He presents the dialectics of mortality and immortality through the dialogue between two characters-the lover and his beloved.
The first quatrain shows the lover's attempt to immortalize his beloved, Elizabeth Boyle's name by writing it on a sandy beach. But his effort proves to be futile by the rolling waves and the tide of the sea. Here waves and tide work as agents of time.
The following quatrain presents the beloved as looking indulgently at the poet's childlike attempt to immotalize her name. She doesn't favour the poet's effort as she is thoroughly familiar with the truth that everyone on this mundane world is sure to face death and decay. According to her,like her name, she herself will become a victim of time.
The third quatrain presents the lover as one rising vigorously against the destruction caused by time. He dismisses his beloved's pessimistis observation. He says that all the inferior worldly matters are destined to be mortal, but his mistress will go on living forever. Therefore he resolves to compose verses celebrating the name and the lofty qualities of the lady. Such verses will be eternally gone through and enjoyed. In the couplet the lover says with confidence that their love will remain immortal even after their physical death.