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Last Updated September 5, 2023.


Time gives life and takes away beauty. It beats on eternally "like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore." As it does, it inches each of us closer to our deaths. It even takes away the beauty of youth, "feeding" on it and digging wrinkles into faces which were once beautiful. In the last couplet, there is hope of something that can withstand the ravages of time: poetry and, therefore, love.


Beauty is fleeting and cannot escape the ravages of the effects of time. Time is seen as a parasite, "feeding" on beauty and destroying with wrinkles a face which was once beautiful. In this way, we are all eventual victims and are helpless to stop the loss of youthful beauty as time beats on like "waves . . . towards the pebbled shore."


Humans are closely linked to nature in Sonnet 60. We are seen facing time, which is compared to waves, the sun, and a harvest. In each of these comparisons, humans fall victim to the forces of nature and are helpless to overcome the effects forced upon us by the passage of time. But in the end, we are provided with a different image: poetry. This is separate from nature and something that can stand apart from time's ravaging effects. Therefore, although humans cannot overcome forces of nature and or the eventual effects of time, there is hope in creating things of lasting significance, like poetry.


The first twelve lines focus on the passage of time and a feeling of the hopelessness of trying to escape it. If time is beating on eternally, it is therefore bringing us ever closer to death. All of this hopelessness is given a glimmer of hope in the end. There is a way for humans to overcome the inevitability of death: by leaving a legacy of art. And the thing that provides inspiration toward this art (in this case, poetry) is the love the speaker feels in "praising thy worth." Therefore, love provides the inspiration needed to produce something that can stand outside the confines of time and certain death.

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