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Sonnet 60 Theme of Art and Culture

Sonnet 60 keeps its discussion of art and culture short—the only real clear reference to this theme comes in the last two lines, in the reference to the speaker's "verse." That said, this brief reference says it all. And then some. The speaker presents his work as an artist or craftsman as a way of opposing the destructive forces of nature. So long as his verse remains in existence, he will be able to continue praising his beloved. Even if most of the concrete details of Shakespeare's life remain shrouded in mystery, it is undeniable that some part of him lives on through his work. Now that's art.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. The speaker seems to put a lot of faith in art and culture at the end of the poem. Why? Do you think he's right to?
  2. In quatrain 3, time is described as having the same relationship to humans that humans have to nature. Why do you think Shakespeare made this comparison? 
  3. The speaker of this poem doesn't seem to have any belief in an afterlife, but seems satisfied that his poetry will live on. Can poetry provide any of the same consolations that religion can?

Chew on This

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

The speaker suggests that art can provide some limited consolation for death. But hey, some consolation is better than none at all, right?

The speaker uses literary allusions to signal his disagreement with standard Christian belief. Zing!

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