Sonnet 2 of Shakespeare

SONNET 2 Analysis

William Shakespeare


When forty winters shall beseige thy brow, 

And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field,
Thy youth’s proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter’d weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask’d where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.

How much more praise deserved thy beauty’s use,
If thou couldst answer ‘This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,’
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel’st it cold.

Sonnet 2: A Translation

At the time of passing forty years or winters from your life, you will have aged and become wrinkly and all the admired beauties and youth will be gone. At that time if anybody asks you where your beauties, which lied at the time of youth, are. But if you did not have any child, you would be shameful and not praiseworthy; because you would have no evidence of your beauty and the reason for your aging. If you had a child, at the time of your cold he would be youthful and beautiful and would remind you of being young and warm blooded.


Critical Analysis: In this sonnet, Shakespeare’s attempt to get his lover to sleep with him rather than as a lesson in living life is seen. He has stressed to his lover that beauty will not last, and that it is selfish and foolish for anyone not to prepare for the loss of beauty and youth by having a child to carry on incomparable beauty.

In the first stanza, Shakespeare says about his friend’s youth that will be worthless. The greatness of his youth, admired by everyone now, will be as worthless as a tatter’d weed of small worth held when forty years of age wrinkles his brow and when there are, “deep trenches in thy beauty’s field”. The personification is seen in the metaphor: “deep trenches in thy beauty’s field” which can be seen as wrinkles in a beautiful face.

In the second stanza, he mentions the question to his friend, when he is asked about all the treasures of thy lusty days. Then he must reply that these, treasures of his lusty days or offspring from his youth are lost in his own deep sunken eyes states the poet. In this place of old age where his youth is, is also greed and self-obsession which is written.

In the third stanza, Shakespeare’s hand rhymes of shame, the ideal answer is shown. The poet states, “This fair child of mine shall sum my account and make my old excuse, proving his beauty by succession thine!” This was the answer wished to be used but could not be. This means that the baby would be young while you are old.

Family: The main point of this poem is to assure his blossom friend to get married and produce kids. The speaker argues that by having a son, he will create a family line, and his beauty will live on.

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