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Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea, Since brass and stone, earth and sea,
But sad mortality o'er-sways their power, Are subject to death,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea, How can beauty withstand that destructive force,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower? When its strength is similar only to a flower?
O, how shall summer's honey breath hold out How will the honeyed breath of summer withstand
Against the wreckful siege of battering days, The battering storm of time,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout, When mortality even destroys
Nor gates of steel so strong, but Time decays? Great rocks and gates made of iron?
O fearful meditation! where, alack, What a scary thought! For where alas,
Shall Time's best jewel from Time's chest lie hid? Shall time's best jewel (his lover), be hid from time's dark chest?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back? Or what strong hand can hold back the swift foot of Time?
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid? Who can prevent Time from destroying beauty?
O, none, unless this miracle have might, None, unless there is hope in the miracle of my verse,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright. That it allows my love to shine eternally out of this black ink.


This sonnet is really an extension of Sonnet 64, the more moving of the two. These sonnets are about the ravages of time on both love and life, and how the poet attempts to overcome mortality with his immortal writings. Summer, symbolic of life itself, is here personified, and its battle against Time is couched in an extended metaphor, sustained with words and phrases such as 'wreckful siege', 'battering days', 'impregnable', and 'gates of steel.'

Shakespeare was intensely disturbed by the ceaseless passage of the destroyer Time. To illustrate just how destructive a force is time, Shakespeare chooses to list those objects in nature that are least vulnerable to time, like stone, brass, iron, and seas, rather than those more delicate of nature's objects, like roses and tulips. But the final couplet provides us with some hope that there is something about mankind that will ultimately resist and defeat time. In the poet's case, it is through his verse that he will emerge victorious.

How to cite this article:
Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 65. Ed. Amanda Mabillard. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2009. < >.

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Shakespeare's Treatment of Love... "The Shakesperean norm of love, thus understood, may be described somewhat as follows. Love is a passion, kindling heart, brain, and senses alike in natural and happy proportions; ardent but not sensual, tender but not sentimental, pure but not ascetic, moral but not puritanic, joyous but not frivolous, mirthful and witty but not cynical. His lovers look forward to marriage as a matter of course, and they neither anticipate its rights nor turn their affections elsewhere. They commonly love at first sight and once for all. Love-relations which do not contemplate marriage occur rarely and in subordination to other dramatic purposes." C.H. Herford. Read on...


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