Stylistic Analysis of Sonnet 55 by William Shakespeare

2474 Words Dec 5th, 2012 10 Pages
Introduction
In this paper, different perspectives of the nature of poetic language will be illustrated by using a stylistic analysis of a poem, „Sonnet 55‟, written by William
Shakespeare (see Appendix for full poem). In the stylistic analysis, the use of sound and rhythm to convey complement meaning by Shakespeare will be in focus here.

Poetic function in poem
Poetic language is a type of language that commonly found in poetry1. According to Jakobson (1960), formalists believe poetic function of language is closely connected to literariness2. There are three perspectives to look at the literariness of poem including inherency, cognitive and sociocultural.
In inherency perspective, poetic function can be found within the poem
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Rhyme

Line

Poem

A
B
A

1
2
3

Not marble, nor the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents

B
C
D
C
D

4
5
6
7
8

Than unswept stone besmear 'd with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war 's quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.

E
F
E
F

9
10
11
12

'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.

G
G

13
14

So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers‟ eyes.

From line 1 to line 12, subject of the poem is built, i.e. everything will be ruined and forgotten except the subject who will be praised eternally6. The last two lines conclude that the subject live in poet‟s poem and its spirit is kept alive in the heart of all lovers immortally6. Hence, the final couplet is a pithy summary of the whole poem. Assonance and Alliteration
Assonance involves the patterns of repetition of vowel sounds8. In this poem, 7 pairs of assonances can be found at the end of every line7 and the repetition of vowel is bolded and underlined below. It connects important words together and helps the reader to notice meaning connection between the words.
6

Fineman, Kelly
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