Loe in the Orient when the gracious light, Shakespeare: Summary & Analysis

Sonnet 7: "Loe in the Orient when the gracious light" is a Shakespearean sonnet that continues to explore the theme of aging and the passage of time. The speaker draws a parallel between the rising and setting of the sun and the stages of life. The poem advises the subject to have a child to carry on their legacy, as a way to defy the effects of time and death.

Sonnet 7: "Loe in the Orient when the gracious light"

Original Text

Lo! in the orient when the gracious light
Lifts up his burning head, each under eye
Doth homage to his new-appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climbed the steep-up heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,
Attending on his golden pilgrimage:
But when from highmost pitch, with weary car,
Like feeble age, he reeleth from the day,
The eyes, 'fore duteous, now converted are
From his low tract, and look another way:
So thou, thyself outgoing in thy noon
Unlooked on diest unless thou get a son.

Modern Translation

Look! In the east, when the gracious light
Raises his blazing head, every eyelid
Pays homage to his newly appearing sight,
Serving with looks his sacred majesty;
And having climbed the steep heavenly hill,
Resembling strong youth in his middle age,
Yet mortal gazes still adore his beauty,
Attending on his golden journey:
But when, from the highest point, with a tired chariot,
Like feeble old age, he sinks from the day,
The eyes, formerly devoted, now turn away
From his low path and look elsewhere:
So you, going out in your prime of life,
Will die unobserved unless you have a son.

Summary

Sonnet 7: "Loe in the Orient when the gracious light" draws a parallel between the rising and setting of the sun and the stages of life. The poem suggests that just as the sun's glory is praised at its rising, so should the subject's beauty be admired in their prime. The poem emphasizes the importance of having a child to perpetuate one's legacy and beauty beyond their own lifetime.

Critical Analysis

The sonnet presents a comparison between the sun's journey from rising to setting and the stages of human life, focusing on the importance of legacy.

The poem describes the sun's rising as a majestic event where every eye pays homage to its appearance, highlighting the beauty and power associated with youth.

As the sun ages and sets, it is likened to "feeble age." This transition is compared to the aging process of humans, and the poem suggests that one should secure their legacy before their prime fades.

The poem advises the subject to have a child, implying that a son would be a continuation of their beauty and legacy. The phrase "Vnlok'd on diest unless thou get a sonne" implies that without a descendant, the subject's beauty will go unnoticed and unappreciated.

Themes

  • Legacy and Posterity: The poem emphasizes the importance of having a child to ensure the continuation of one's beauty and legacy beyond their own lifetime.
  • Parallelism of Nature and Humanity: The poem draws a parallel between the sun's journey and the stages of human life, suggesting a connection between natural cycles and human experiences.
  • Defying Time and Aging: The poem suggests that having a child is a way to defy the effects of time and aging, allowing one's beauty to live on in future generations.

Attitudes/Feelings

  • Advice and Reflection: The poem conveys advice to the subject about the importance of securing their legacy and beauty through procreation.
  • Hope: The poem offers a hopeful outlook by suggesting that having a child can ensure the subject's continued presence and impact.

Literary Devices

  • Extended Metaphor: The extended metaphor of the sun's journey parallels the stages of human life and the importance of procreation.
  • Alliteration: The repetition of the "s" sound in "serving with looks his sacred majesty" creates a melodious and rhythmic effect.

Discussion Question

How does Sonnet 7: "Loe in the Orient when the gracious light" use the metaphor of the sun's journey to convey the importance of having a child to preserve one's beauty and legacy? How does the poem suggest that procreation can be a way to defy the effects of aging and the passage of time?

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