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Sonnet 60 Art and Culture Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #1

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. (1-4)

In these lines, Shakespeare busts out some of his trademarked verbal trickery—and uses bad grammar to achieve an awesome poetic effect. When we first come to Line 3—"Each changing place with that which goes before,"—we think that this phrase is modifying the "minutes" described in the previous line. Once we get to Line 4, however, we realize that Line 3 could also be read as modifying "all." What does this have to do with the theme of art and culture? Well, by manipulating his language in this creative way, Shakespeare shows that human beings aren't just passive victims of nature and time. Instead, they are creative, and can use their artistic resources to depict nature—and their own thoughts and feelings—in new and interesting ways. Sure, maybe that's a stretch. But that's just the kind of stretch Big Willy would make.

Quote #2

Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned, (5-6)

These lines showcase the power of metaphor, which can magically transform part of human existence—the birth and development of a child—into something of cosmic significance: the rising of the sun.

Quote #3

Crookèd eclipses 'gainst his glory fight,
And time that gave doth now his gift confound. (7-8)

Just as poetic language and metaphor can make the successes of humans greater, by likening them to the actions of the cosmos, so they can make human failure seem nobler. Think about it: would you rather tell your friends, "I bombed my test because I didn't study" or "the sun of my glory was crookedly eclipsed by my teacher's malicious multiple choice queries"? Case closed.

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