Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
- And yet! And yet! What possible reason could the speaker of this poem have to be saying the words "And yet"? Didn't he just tell us that time will destroy absolutely everything? Why is he now telling us that his "verse" (i.e., his poetry, maybe this poem) will live on?
- Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that. Notice that he isn't saying that his poetry will last for all time, just that it will last into future "times." This could be days, weeks, months, years, centuries (and it has lasted for all of those durations—we're still reading it today), but not forever.
- Also, note that he isn't 100 percent certain that this will happen—he says that his verse will stand "in hope," i.e. full of hope that this could come to pass, but not certainty that it will.
- Once you see all these qualifications, all these ways in which the speaker is showing how uncertain he is, it just becomes all the more impressive when he ends the line with that defiant word "stand." It's almost as if he's personifying his own poetry, giving it strength and willpower.
- It's also worth noting that this is the first time personal language enters the poem. The speaker is no longer using the universal "our." He's saying "my verse."
- Mine, all mine. This is in keeping with the sonnet form, in which the turn, or volta should come around the final couplet—that is, if it's a Shakespearean sonnet you're writing.
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
- The speaker says that his verse, for all the years that it stands, is going to be "praising thy worth," in spite of the "cruel hand" of time.
- Sounds pretty good. But wait a moment. Do you notice anything a little bit strange here… like, whose worth? That "thy" just kind of came out of nowhere.
- Who the heck is the speaker talking to?
- Actually, we don't know specifically, though remembering that Sonnet 60 is only one poem in a longer, 154 poem sequence can clear things up a bit. Most scholars think that Sonnets 1-126 are addressed to a young man, while Sonnets 127-154 are addressed to a woman. This would put Sonnet 60 in the young man category.
- Regardless of who is being addressed, however, one thing is clear. Sonnet 60, no matter what it may have seemed up to this point, is actually a love poem.
- We just don't happen to know that until Line 14, and we only learn it from one word, the pronoun "thy."
- Does this new information change the way you look at the poem up to this point? How so?
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