The poem “age and youth”, by William Shakespeare (born April 26th 1564 ? died April 23rd 1616) is one of his profound poems which was published in 1588. It is apart of a collection of numerous poems in “The Passionate Pilgrim”, ? Age and Youth being numeral XII. These various poems centre on the ideas of the early and late stages in life. More notably however his one sided perception on the two topics. “Youth” is cast as being the more favourable and several lines throughout the poem display this bias.
“Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold”. “Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare” In fact the whole poem centers around the aforementioned topic (youth) being the more beautiful and aesthetically pleasing than barren and cold “old age”. Shakespeare’s themes in this particular poem are not unlike many of the others in “The passionate pilgrim”, the set of poems from which “age and youth” originates, with conventional themes such as love and beauty and the related motifs of time and mutability.
Being a “continuation” of the previous poems in “The Passionate Pilgrim” it connects with his theme of addressing love and praise not to a woman but instead to a young man full of youth and vitality. “Venus, with young Adonis sitting by her Under a myrtle shade, began to woo him” The passionate pilgrim XI “My better angel is a man right fair” The passionate pilgrim II However “youth and age” is focused primarily on the topics previously stated (youth and age) but with respect to the young man in the previous poems of “The Passionate Pilgrim”.
In effect the young man is immortalised by the poem thereby defying the destructiveness of time. This is one of the reasons behind this poem, to show how time destroys youth and beauty. “Youth is full of sport, age’s breath is short”. A number of poetic devices such as the juxtaposition of two complete opposites, the repetition of themes, the explicit imagery, metaphoric language and similes, just to name a few, have been used to convey these themes. “Youth like summer morne, age like winter weather”.
A good example of the juxtaposition of age and youth as summer and winter, used intentionally to create an imagery of youth as being fertile, full of life and pleasant (as we would picture summer) and age being cold, dark and associated with death. Shakespeare has used this as though he is describing the lifecycle from birth (summer, youth) to death (winter, old age). In addition similes have been used as another technique showing the similarities between summer and youth and old age and winter. “Youth is nimble, age is lame”.
Once again shows the simplicity of the poem and the theme Shakespeare is conveying to the reader. Metaphoric language is used here to define youth and age, it gives it an almost human quality as though youth and age can be imagined as two different people (i. e. personification). It is a very effective way of providing imagery for the reader. Other lines follow a similar pattern, “Youth is full of sport, age’s breath is short” again showing the vitality of youth and the frailty and finality of old age. The use of hyperbole as a technique is evident throughout the poem.
Most of the lines have some form of hyperbole by using to greatly exaggerated extremes. “hot and cold”, “wild and tame,” “summer and winter,” “age and youth cannot live together”. All of these quotes exaggerate the characteristics of both age and youth and are important so there are no ambiguities between the two. They are as opposite as “hot and cold”. The use of masculine rhyme is present in the poem however it is not consistent throughout the whole poem. “Youth is full of sport, Ages breath is short, Youth is nimble, Age is lame Youth is hot and bold, Age is weake and cold.
Youth is wild, and Age I s tame. ” The repetition of youth and age gives it flowing rhythm and therefore rhyme is not necessary. Alliteration is used sparingly and not a strong technique in the poem. It is only used as a play on words, to humorously emphasise the initial consonants of the lines being read. “Age, I do abhor thee; youth, I do adore thee”. It is uplifting and gives the mood a somewhat flavour due to the alliteration being used. In brief the most focal and constant theme in the poem is the unwillingness to become old and the negative aspects of old age.
“Age, I do abhor thee; youth, I do adore thee”. Youth is so vibrant and lively, a stark comparison to old age, an idea which Shakespeare stubbornly holds on to. “Age, I do defy thee: O, sweet shepherd, hie thee”. The melancholic mood of the poem expresses Shakespeare’s thoughtful sadness on growing old and the inevitability life and death. The poetic techniques effectively contrast how wonderful youth is and how lackluster and bleak we become as we get older. “Youth” is consistently depicted as being that of a young person with “age” being that of an old “lame” nearly dying man,” ages breath is short”.
Courtney from Study Moose
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