Essay Close Reading of "How Soon Hath Time"

834 Words Jan 18th, 2012 4 Pages
Close Reading of “How Soon Hath Time”

Milton’s sonnet “How Soon Hath Time” is a Petrarchian style poem written in iambic pentameter. It has a rhyme scheme of a, b, b, a, a, b, b, a, c, d, e, d, c, e. Each four line stanza makes up one complete sentence. This structure is ideally suitable to the iambic pentameter style of the sonnet. Structuring the four line stanzas this way also constructs a cohesive thought. After the first and second four line stanzas there is major punctuation in the form of a period. This successful divides the poem up and the octave into two sections. The meter is consistent and regular giving the sonnet a smooth rhythm and a nice easy flow when spoken aloud. Each line contains five beats although Milton
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He compares his delayed physical maturity to that of “late spring” (l. 4). He even compares his maturity to that of a fruit, saying that he has “inward ripeness” (l. 7), suggesting that internally he is mature or ripe which does not appear externally. The sonnets main theme is obviously time as almost every line has a reference to it. In the first line Milton personifies time by capitalizing it and referring to it as a “subtle thief” (l. 1). By doing this, Milton is intensifying time’s power. In line 12, he emphasizes the control time has over a man’s life stating that time is leading him towards something, an ultimate goal, along with “the will of heaven” (l. 12). A “volta [which is] also called a turn is a sudden change in thought, direction, or emotion near the conclusion of a sonnet. Typically, the first section of the sonnet states a premise, asks a question, or suggests a theme. The concluding lines after the volta resolve the problem by suggesting an answer, offering a conclusion, or shifting the thematic concerns in a new direction” (Abrams and Harpham). In this sonnet the volta occurs at line nine with the word “Yet”. The mood in this line changes from disappointment and frustration to introspective and acceptance. In lines 11 and 12 Milton recognizes that time is inevitable and also his own mortality. He says that even though it might be “less or more”, referring to his achievements, and “soon or

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