Study Guide

Sonnet 2 Old Age

By William Shakespeare

Old Age

Behind all of the talk of beauty, time, and kids in Sonnet 2 is the idea that we all get old and die. When we are young, we don't think much about it, but finally, it gets us all. The move toward the grave is the driving force of this poem. It's the opposite of beauty, and it wins every time. This is getting a little grim, isn't it? That's the point, though. Without something to threaten the young man with, the speaker can't get him to pay attention. Unless he can make the young man scared of old age, there's no way to force him to have kids.

Questions About Old Age

  1. Are you scared of getting old? Do you think having kids might make you feel better?
  2. Does scaring a person about old age and death seem like a good way to get him to do something? If this is the strategy the speaker is using, do you think he'll get what he wants?
  3. Is this poem more focused on being young or on getting old? Or do those two things seem to balance each other out?
  4. Are there reasons to look forward to getting old? Does this poem focus too much on the disadvantages of aging?

Chew on This

This poem creates a primarily negative portrayal of old age, where the only possibility of joy and satisfaction is having something (in this case a child) that reminds you of your youth.

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