Sonnet 104

Sonnet 104: To Me, Fair Friend, You Never Can Be Old

By William Shakespeare

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah, yet doth beauty, like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceived;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceived:
For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

Summary of Sonnet 104: To Me, Fair Friend, You Never Can Be Old

  • Popularity of “Sonnet 104”: Written by William Shakespeare, a phenomenal English poet, and writer, “Sonnet 104” is a love poem. It belongs to the sequence of sonnets that he dedicated to the fair youth. This poem speaks about beauty, truth, and age. It shows how time changes everything, but it cannot beat the power of words. The poem gains lasting appraisal due to its style, subject, and appealing thematic strand.
  • “Sonnet 104” As a Representative of Truth: This poem centers on the unchangeable law of nature. According to the speaker, his friend’s youthful appearance is steadfast as it has not witnessed any change. He claims his friend’s beauty has not changed since he first saw him three years ago. On the other hand, the world has witnessed three summers and three winters. They have seen three beautiful springs and three ruthless autumns. Moreover, the human eye has witnessed many changes in the world, but his friend’s beauty did not suffer a decline. He is still fresh, attractive, and loveable. It seems that the speaker is living in a world of imagination where his friend’s beauty is not going to decay.
    As soon as we come close to the couplet, we find that the speaker comes out of his imagination. He acknowledges that everything in the universe has to meet an end. All people get old, leaving the memories behind. Toward the end, he addresses the future generations and informs them that the most beautiful person has already passed his prime when they are alive.
  • Major Themes in “Sonnet 104”: Love, aging, and man versus nature are the poem’s central themes. This beautiful poem presents two things, man’s desires and the unchangeable law of nature. Throughout the poem, the speaker addresses the beauty of his fair friend and tries to make his readers feel his emotions. He thinks that the beauty of his friend is unchangeable. At first, he builds a strong argument about his extraordinary beauty, but later, he realizes that nature works on certain principles, and the same rules apply to his friend. Even his friend’s beauty is going to fade with time. However, he feels happy to think that his friend’s rejuvenating beauty will remain the same in the speaker’s verses. The poem ends when the speaker addresses the future generations and claims that when they are alive, they will miss the mesmerizing beauty of his friend.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Sonnet 104: To Me, Fair Friend, You Never Can Be Old

literary devices are modes that represent the writer’s ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their few words appealing to the readers. Shakespeare also used some literary devices in the poem, whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold” and the sound of /o/ in “In process of the seasons have I seen.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t/ in “Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned” and the sound of /r/ in “For fear of which, hear this, thou age unbred.”
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Shakespeare has used imagery in this poem, such as; “Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turned”, “Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green” and “Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold.”
  2. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects that are different in nature. The poet has used beauty as an extended metaphor to cherish the beauty of his dear friend.
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbolism like beauty, love, truth, and aging.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Sonnet 104: To Me, Fair Friend, You Never Can Be Old

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Couplet: There are two constructive lines of verse in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which usually reveals the central idea of the poem.
  2. End Rhyme: End Rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Shakespeare has used end rhyme in this poem such as; “unbred/dead” “seen/green” and “old/cold.”
  3. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter having five iambs per line. The poem follows iambic pentameter such as; “Such seems your beauty Three winters cold.”
  4. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABABCDCD in its octave and EFEF GG rhyme scheme in its sestet.
  5. Sonnet: A sonnet is a fourteen-lined poem usually written in iambic pentameter. This Shakespearean sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful for a person to praise the mesmerizing beauty of their loved ones.

“To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride.”

Post navigation