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Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown'd,
Crooked eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And Time, that gave, doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth,
And delves the parallels in beauty's brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature's truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow.
   And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
   Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.


LX. This Sonnet is in connection with that next before. It is also under the influence of the melancholy cast of thought not perhaps unnaturally produced by the theory of an unvarying and inexorable succession, a revolution ever the same. The particulars which make up human life succeed one another in unvarying order and with unresting onward movement, from birth to maturity, and from maturity to decay and dissolution. But the poet anticipates greater durability for his verse, and consequently for the fame of his friend. Lix. and lx. probably constitute a separate group.

5. The main of light. The expanse of light; the world conceived as though a wide ocean enlightened by the rays of the sun.

6. Crawls to maturity. Meaning, probably, not merely that the progress is slow, but that the condition of mankind is abject. Cf. Hamlet, Act iii. sc. i, lines 129-131, "What should such fellows as I do crawling between earth and heaven?"

7. Crooked eclipses. Adverse circumstances and conditions, which are "crooked," as being hostile to onward progress, changing its course, or arresting it.

8. Doth now his gift confound. Spoil and render worthless his gift. Cf. v. 6.

9. Doth transfix the flourish set on youth. Doth kill and destroy youthful beauty.

11. Feeds on, &c. Feeds on whatever is pre-eminently excellent. Nature's truth. That which is naturally and genuinely beautiful and excellent, as opposed to what is meretricious and artificial.

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets. Ed. Thomas Tyler. London: D. Nutt, 1890. Shakespeare Online. 28 Dec. 2013. < >.

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On Sonnets 55 to 66 ... "Eleven miscellaneous, loosely-linked verses, tracing the course of friendship, its dreads and jealousies. The friend has become an ideal, and in faithfulness to that ideal lies the poet's hope of immortality and that "his verse shall stand." He dreads the ravages of time, but fame will keep him ever young. In his present state of gloom and despair he would die, but death now would mean oblivion, and he cannot "leave his love alone." These Sonnets are much more allegorical than personal, and describe the poet's yearning for immortality far more than his human affection for a human being." John Cuming Walters. (The Mystery of Shakespeare's Sonnets. London: New Century Press.)


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