Wednesday, March 20, 2013

William Shakespeare's Sonnet 60 ("Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore")

This is a description of the lines of meter utilized in Shakespeare's Sonnet 60, which can be read here.

In this day and age when free verse poetry has become the norm, many readers do not notice the rhythm of the poems. However, the meter should not just be ignored because it is often implemented to provide emphasis on important words and phrases and express the main themes of the work as a whole. This is evident in William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 60 [“Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore”]. This piece features the customary elements of a Shakespearean sonnet: three quatrains ending with a couplet, the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme, and lines in iambic pentameter (lines with a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables). However, unlike most of his sonnets, this one includes several trochees (lines with a pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables), which can be noted in the beginning of the first two lines with “Like as” and “So do.” The iambic meter undulates like the waves that “make towards the pebbled shore” the same way “our minutes” of our lives “hasten to their end,” and the trochees act like the waves crashing forcefully against the rocks. The next trochee is found in lines six through seven: “Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crowned // Crooked eclipsesgainst his glory fight.” The transformed pattern draws attention to the toils people go through from birth to inevitable death, when all their glory is brought to an end.
Here are some examples of different types of meter.
For more help, check out this study guide.