Shakespeare now often relies on a single effective image 56, ; 96, The accumulation of similes, so prominent in Venus and Adonis, becomes rare and never cloying. Mathis noted that Lucrece was already richer in metaphors than Venus and Adonis.
Sonnet - The Sonnets
O fearful meditation! Hardly less surprising is the next succession of images when beauty becomes a jewel that Time will enclose in his chest, the grave, since no strong hand can hold his foot, arrest the flight of this thief. But this preference for metaphor obviously accompanied and probably resulted from the growing maturity of his individual style and native genius. The Sonnets thus evidence a progress or change in three respects. The stereotyped rhetorical figures and the extended similes, so frequent in the narrative poems, disappear, or are sparsely and more subtly handled.
Metaphorical language becomes predominant, with a growing use of mixed metaphors flouting consistency. Yet, within the sonnet sequence, the poet, like the dramatist, comes to rely on a plainer language for the expression of intense feeling. I admit with Kant that taste is always subjective. Yet, instead of relying merely on a kind of universal consensus to justify the permanence of the greater works, I am inclined to claim that they fill special requirements.
In Venus and Adonis the cosmic significance of the myth is either absent, or so faintly alluded to, that it creates no imaginative expansion. In the Rape of Lucrece the presence of a social background at once past and present is felt, but the major consequence of the action — the emergence of the Roman Republic — is obviously not the centre of interest. Despite the plea of Lucrece for moral virtue in the exercise of power and the final brief allusion to the overthrow of the Tarquins, the poem is mainly concerned with domestic values.
The social meaning still prevails in the Sonnets 1, 3, 9, 19, 71, 72, 75, 81, 90, , , yet an imaginative and symbolic enlargement is noteworthy in such lines as:. For nothing this wide universe I call Save thou, my rose. In the narrative poems an artful management creates a sense of continuity and sets off the various episodes: attention is pinpointed on successive moments.
The traditional association of the boar with winter in the Adonis myth of death and revival is unexploited. As Augustine observed Confessions , vii. The etymological root is intendere : what is intense compels us to focus our attention. Poetic intensity makes the senses and the imagination, the mind, and at times the heart, 85 intent on the aesthetic object. This is not achieved in all the sonnets. We are agreed on this essential point. I only wish to say once more that some sonnets give us a sense of triumphant permanence through the creation of form.
Kolin, ed. Venus and Adonis. Critical Essays New York: Garland, , 54, Allusions to particular circumstances besides the sonnets about the triangular relationship and the rival poet are found in sonnets , 39, , , , , , , , 13 , Paul Edmonson and Stanley Wells note that the gender of the addressee is uncertain in a majority of sonnets, which is true, but cannot by itself disprove the pertinence of their distribution in the edition.
When Venus attempts to seduce Adonis, she reminds him that his beauty should be preserved by generation, but she does not hold out to him the prospect of giving him a son herself; her argument is almost irrelevant in so far as her purpose is to secure immediate satisfaction for her desire. The young man of the Sonnets is urged to marry in order to ensure the continuance of his family as well as the preservation of his beauty; the aesthetic and social arguments dovetail.
The heart is spoken of as the seat of love I do not share the view that he was influenced by Puritanism in his last plays. The pain of separation, often evoked, need not imply sexual desire. Kishi, R.
Wells eds. Cited as Kishi. But each sonnet, while serving the same purpose, has a different theme and argument, which is different from the mere accumulation of images to prove one point in Venus and Adonis. In Venus and Adonis and are typical examples. This kind of see-saw balance can be achieved without so neat an antithesis, e.
The personal pronouns invite a spontaneous identification with the speaker. I admit brief instances of colloquiality occur in the dialogue in Venus and Adonis and in Lucrece Wright in Schiffer, But it is a secondary characteristic, not fully present in all cases. He did not discuss the difference between metaphor and simile. Some of these metaphors are fleeting personifications.
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One may argue that mixed metaphors begin to appear in Venus , e. It does not occur in Venus and Adonis and out of four occurrences in Lucrece only one refers to the general doom.
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In the Sonnets however, apart from a sonnet to the mistress This link between the Sonnets and the great tragedies is significant. Buxton Forman Oxford: O. Ellrodt Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, , Despite the present trend the greater intensity in art and poetry still seems to me inseparable from an intuition of essence, or at least a willing suspension of disbelief in it.
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