Study Guide

Sonnet 60 Death

By William Shakespeare


Not to be a bummer, and not to quote The X-Files or anything, but everything dies. Ain't no gettin' 'round that fact, dear Shmoopers. But do our lives just flow by with no greater destination? Is there anything to look forward to? The first twelve lines of Sonnet 60 seem to say no, but the final couplet offers us a new kind of immortality—through art.

Questions About Death

  1. What is the first hint the poem gives that it's talking about death?
  2. In quatrain 2, Shakespeare uses personified abstractions to refer to two different stages of human life: "Nativity" and "maturity." Why doesn't he refer to "mortality" here in the same way?
  3. Does the speaker of the poem believe in an afterlife? Why, or why not? How can you tell?
  4. This might sound like a stupid question, but…what does the speaker hate most about mortality? 
  5. Phrased another way, what do you think are his priorities in life?

Chew on This

The speaker of the poem doesn't give us any hint that he believes in an afterlife.

The speaker seems to value beauty and youth more than anything. If beauty and youth could last forever, he would be happy.