Shakespeare is a famous poet and playwright known for his sonnets. Shakespeare’s earlier sonnets focused primarily on the ravages of times . Sonnet 19 in particular explains Shakespeare’s fear for the effects of time on his lover.Shakespeare wishes that the youth and beauty of his lover would never change. In order for this to occur, time must make an exception for his friend so that his friend will never show the physical affects of time.
In this first couplet Shakespeare uses imagery in order to convey his message that time is inevitable. The lion in the first line of the couplet is used to show that even the greatest predator will eventually wither and die. Time is something that no one can escape the effects of, even a great predator such as the lion. The second line of the couplet states that time causes even the earth to destroy its children . To show the effects of time, Shakespeare uses the earth as an example.
The earth is portrayed as a machine that recycles all living things over time. Earth is both the creator and destroyer of life. For example, the great lion is born on earth and feeds on animals that rely on earth to survive. Thus, in order for a lion to survive it relies on earth for its food. As the lion ages it consumes more and more resources provided by the earth. Eventually, the lion will die and the earth will eventually use the dead lion to create nutrients that will be used to feed the prey of the lion. In order for life to be created there must be death.
Shakespeare draws on the imagery of the lion once again to help better explain the first couplet. The first line of this couplet is to give an example of the earth recycling. Eventually, the earth will take the lions predatory weapons such as its sharp teeth over time. The earth has given the lion its sharp teeth and will eventually take those teeth away. Timecauses the lion to grow its sharp teeth and, in time, takes the lions sharp teeth away to be reused.
The next line of the couplet uses the example of the phoenix to further assert his meaning. A phoenix is an immortal being that is reborn every five hundred years.  Thus, even an immortal bird such as the phoenix feels the effects of time. Although the phoenix is immortal, it must be reborn every five hundred years to remain immortal.
Shakespeare begs for time to do one thing leave his friend unaffected by time . Although Shakespeare knows that time is unavoidable he wants time to make an exception for his friend . According to Robert Jungman, time is hunting Shakespeare’s friend. This theory is supported due to the fact that at the beginning of sonnet 19 Shakespeare uses the imagery of the lion. The lion is a great predator which time will eventually defeat. Thus everything on earth is the prey of time since nothing can defeat it. Shakespeare wishes that time will not hunt his friend and let him stay beautiful forever. Shakespeare fears the wrinkles that will appear on his lovers face. In order to avoid the signs of old age Shakespeare wishes for time to deviate from its usual course and leave his lover unmarked . By allowing time to overlook his friend, Shakespeare wishes to make his lover the model for all beauty that can be forever preserved. Nevertheless, Shakespeare snaps back to reality and realizes that time is inescapable. In his angst, Shakespeare provokes time asking it to do its worst since his lover will live forever young in his poetry . Thus, by Shakespeare writing all of these sonnets about his lover, he will live young forever. Even though his friend will wither and die, the sonnets that Shakespeare has written about him will always paint a beautiful and youthful image of his lover.
Shakespeare uses sonnet 19 to show his fear of time. The effects of time are what cause everything around us to change. Shakespeare wishes for time to keep his friend young and beautiful but then understands that time is inevitable. In realizing this Shakespeare writes sonnets so that his lover, although lost to the world, can be immortalized in his sonnets.
By: Gabriel Lepage
Devouring Time, blunt thouthe lions pawsAnd make the earth devourher own sweet brood
And make the earth devour her ownsweet brood
Pluck the keen teeth fromthe fierce tigers jawsAnd burn the long-livedphoenix in her blood
And burn the long-lived phoenix inher blood
But I forbid thee one mostheinous crime:O! carve not with thy hours myloves fair brow,Nor draw no lines there withthine antique pen;Him in thy course untainted doallowFor beautys pattern tosucceeding men. Yet, do thy worst old Time:despite thy wrong, My love shall in my verse everlive young.
BibliographyClock 1 image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robbie73/5924985913/sizes/z/in/photostream/Phoenix: http://birdgrico.deviantart.com/art/Phoenix-Fire-and-Flames-277489237Lion image: http://thiagolupus.deviantart.com/art/Lion-RoAr-L-V-D-300039403Recycle image: http://flameblasted.deviantart.com/art/Earth-Day-Collage-Green-83998977Clock 2 image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25477528@N00/5181143856/sizes/m/in/photostream/Tulip image: http://pixabay.com/en/grow-blossom-time-lapse-sequence-73353/Background audio: http://archive.org/details/ExplosionsInTheSky-YourHandInMineByErasethegrey93 An Analysis of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19, Shakespeare Online. http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/19detail.html Jungman, Robert E. Untainted Crime in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19. ANQ: A Quarterly Journal ofShort Articles, Notes, and Reviews. 16:2. pp. 19-21. 2003.Example citations:Online Source: Title of webpage, Website Name. URLJournal: Last name, First name. Article Title. Journal name. vol. #. pp. #’s. Year published.