Themes and Variations in Shakespeare's Sonnets

By J B Leishman | Go to book overview

1
Absence of the topics carpe diem and carpe
florem from Shakespeare’s sonnets

Despite occasional overlappings, it may be said that in the ancient poets (and, to a large extent, in their Renaissance imitators) there are certain immediately recognisable distinctions, which scarcely appear in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, between different kinds of transience, or between different standpoints from which time and transience may be regarded, each of them appropriate to a particular kid of poetry, or poem, and to the drawing of a particular kind of moral. There is first a distinction between Devouring Time (Ovid’s tempus edax rerum) and the brief span of time (Horace’s vitae summa brevis) allotted to human life, and there is a further clear distinction between the brevity of human life in general and the (as it were) yet briefer brevity of youth and beauty.

In Pindar, Horace and Ovid the topic of devouring, obliterating, in-oblivion-whelming Time occurs in those passages where they proclaim the power of their poetry to obtain immortality either for themselves or for the public virtues and achievements of those they celebrate. Only very seldom, as I have remarked, do such resonantly impressive defiances of Devouring Time occur in ancient love-poetry— indeed, the only example I have been able to discover is the one already quoted1 from Propertius (III, ii, 17 ff.).

Of poetry on the brevity of human life in general, with its subservience to Time and Fortune and the gods’ inscrutable decrees, poetry with the moral carpe diem, seize today, enjoy the present, which alone is within our power, the great master is Horace. Sestius, in the beautiful ode on the coming of Spring (I, iv), is reminded that

Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat inchoare longam

(‘Life’s brief span forbids the beginning of hopes that reach beyond us’);

Thaliarchus, in the Soracte ode (I, ix), is exhorted

1 On page 42.

-95-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Themes and Variations in Shakespeare's Sonnets
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 254

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.