Sonnet 104: The Explication

By Giani Gates

Sonnet 104-William Shakespeare

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,

For as you were when first your eye I eyed,

Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold

Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,

Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned

In process of the seasons have I seen,

Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,

Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.

Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,

Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;

So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,

Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:

For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:

Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

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The Explication

The speaker sees the person's beauty as ageless, because he/she looks just as beautiful as he/she did when they first met, so he/she will never get old. He/she has known this person for 3 years. Each year, even the winter took away the beauty of summer, and the beautiful spring always changed. The beauty of April was burned when June arrived. When he/she first met him/her was when everything is green, such as grass and leaves in spring, representing life. This person's beauty is compared to a dial-hand (such as one on a clock) because it is moving with time and unchanging. The speaker thinks this person's beauty is true, but he/she believes this person born and summer ended so he/she took away the beauty of summer for him/herself. The tone is very romantic and encouraging due to the abundance of compliments and comparisons. The mood is romantic, but becomes creepy once words like death and burned are used. This person's beauty is compared to a dial-hand, spring, perfume, and summer showing his/her beauty to be unchangeable, beautiful, lively, and alluring.
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