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Home :: Archive :: 2010 :: April ::
Line 12 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 21.0173  Wednesday, 14 April 2010

From:         Felix de Villiers < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Date:         April 9, 2010 3:26:51 PM EDT
Subject: Line 12 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18
Comment:      SHK 21.0162 Line 12 of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18

I fail to understand why this line has been so much murdered with interpretation and hairsplitting discriminations. The line means quite simply what it says.

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st

Charming the idea of growing to time, as in music. See similar passages elsewhere as in Richard II's prison speech. I cannot insult the intelligence of Shakespeare readers who must know the context and how this theme is continually repeated and is confirmed by the final couplet in this sonnet:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see.
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

There is absolutely nothing mysterious in the preposition ' to' in the phrase 'to time.' and if we don't know by now that poets concentrate their language, we should not be reading it at all. Poetry in German is called Dichtung, concentration. Better to read Shakespeare first of all for the pleasure of doing so and then let interpretations dawn on you. Obsessive hairsplitting will get us nowhere.

Yours,
Felix

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