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Sonnet 2 Theme of Time

Sonnet 2 bounces back and forth in time, taking us from the present to forty years into the future and back again. This imaginary time travel allows us see the whole range of a man's life, and makes a contrast between warm youth and beauty and coldness, age, and ugliness. Time is definitely tied to the theme of old age, but we want you to notice what a big deal this poem makes about traveling through time.

Questions About Time

  1. Sonnet 2 has a number of metaphors for the passing of time (the seasons, a siege, investment growth). Is there one of them that stands or that seems particularly beautiful to you?
  2. At the end of the poem, the speaker suggests that having a kid is a way to turn back the hands of time. Does this seem true to you, or is that an exaggeration meant to trick the young man?
  3. This poem is all about the passage of a long period of time (don't forget that a 60 year old man would have been pretty darn old in Shakespeare's day). At the same time, the poem is very short. What kind of an effect do you think that has?
  4. If you are young, do you think about getting old? If you are, let's say, on the older side, do you wish you had thought about it more when you were young?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

This poem has a startling impact in part because it's such a brief, concise statement. The poet is able to pack a huge span of time into a few short lines, and this contrast increases the emotional impact of the poem.

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