Comparison Of Sonnet 75 And Shakespeare's Sonnet 60

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Both Spenser’s Sonnet 75 and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60 shine with poetic immortality. However, as Sonnet 75 playfully flirts with the eternal life, Sonnet 60 approaches more cautiously: waiting to immortalize until the final couplet.
Through form, both poems distinguish themselves as unique immortal poems. Sonnet 60 is commanding, while Spenser’s Sonnet 60 is more conversational, but why? Well, in Sonnet 60 both the second and third quatrains begin in syntactical inversion; thus emphasizing the poem’s tit for tat. A woman addressing her man exclaims, “‘Vayne man, said she,’ that doest in vain assay” (5). By inverting the syntax, the poem is able to preserve the quatrain’s rhyme scheme while simultaneously stressing the man’s response which comes
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Sonnet 60 speaks more gravely as Sonnet 75 communicates playfully. Sonnet 75 opens romantically as it begins to rise; “One day I wrote her name upon the strand” (1). What a lovely idea, like carving initials onto a tree, write your lovers name in the sand; “But came the waves and washed it away” (2). Unfortunately, the waves erase the work and act as reminders of nature’s power; but in the end the lesson is communicated lightheartedly and indirectly. On the other hand, Sonnet 60 opens with waves heading toward the shore, “Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore” (1); but waves are explicitly used as reminders of time’s rapidity in the following line; “So do our minutes hasten to their end” (2). Many more pleasant ideas can arise out of a wave headed toward the shore, but Sonnet 60 utilizes this moment to reiterate life’s brevity. Continuing the rise and crash format, lines 3 and 4 of Sonnet 75 show the man repeating what just previously ended in failure; “Agayne I wrote it with a second hand, / But came the tyde, and made my paynes his pray” (3-4). Like a baby learning to walk and get up after it falls, the man scribbles his lover’s name anew, but as could be expected, the tide washes it away. Maybe he thought things would be different. Part of what makes Sonnet 75 so playful and adorable is the speaker’s clarity of intention and child-like disposition. On the other hand, Sonnet 60 ditches the rise and fall configuration and uses lines 3 and 4 to lend further understanding to the speaker’s first lesson: In reference to minutes hastening to their end, “Each changing place with that which goes before, / In sequent toil all forwards do contend” (3-4). In the present, minutes displace one and other yet meet identical fates. Lessons such as time’s inevitability and unrelenting speed help characterize the sonnet’s solemn mood.

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