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Shakespeare's SONNET 32 Analysis: Message, Theme, Structure

Written By Monika Soni
Last updated: September 27, 2023

William Shakespeare's Sonnet 32, part of his iconic collection of 154 sonnets, is a poignant meditation on mortality, love, and the enduring power of art. This sonnet, like many others in Shakespeare's oeuvre, explores complex emotional landscapes within its 14-line structure.

Written in the Elizabethan age, the poem continues to capture modern imaginations with its timeless themes and lyrical artistry. In our discussion of Sonnet 32, we will delve into its nuanced layers, examining its message about the transience of life and the eternal nature of written words.

Closely analyzing its structure reveals its adherence to the Shakespearean sonnet form, with its three quatrains and a final rhymed couplet employing the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme. This structure encapsulates the sonnet's central themes, creating a tight, symmetrical form that starkly contrasts the complexity and turmoil of the emotions discussed.

Equally important are the poetic devices and imagery that Shakespeare employs, as they lend texture to the overarching themes. The idea of art as a form of immortality, a familiar concept in Shakespeare's sonnets, is explored here in relation to the speaker's own sense of mortality.

As we unpack the intricate elements that make up this poem, we will gain insights into the world that Shakespeare lived in and the universal truths that remain relevant today.

Shakespeare's SONNET 32 Full Poem

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death, my bones with dust shall cover
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bett’ring of the time,
And though they be outstripped by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O! then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
‘Had my friend’s Muse grown with this growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought,
To march in ranks of better equipage:
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style, I’ll read, his for his love.’


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32 is filled with imagery and symbolism, exploring the power of love to transcend death and remain timeless despite the passing of time.

The speaker expresses his admiration for his beloved, conveying a sense of awe for her beauty that will never fade even as “ages have run their course."

Shakespeare's SONNET 32

He compares her beauty to nature, showing how love can remain eternal and unchanging. Additionally, the speaker acknowledges mortality by addressing the inevitable passing of time, yet he remains convinced in the power of love to transcend even death itself.

In this way, he conveys strong themes of resilience and hope in the face of mortality.


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32 is a traditional fourteen-line sonnet with an iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme follows the ABAB CDCD EFEF GG pattern, featuring both end rhymes and internal rhymes.

The poem employs many poetic techniques, such as personification, metaphor, imagery, and alliteration, to explore the themes of love, beauty, and eternity.

Date of Composition of Shakespeare's Sonnet 32

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32 is believed to have been written during the late 1590s, though the exact date of composition remains unknown.

The poem first appeared in the 1609 publication of Shakespeare's Sonnets and has since become one of the most popular and studied Shakespearian poems.


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32 theme is the human condition in relation to love and beauty and the power of eternity. The speaker reflects on the transience of human life and experiences, contrasting this with the eternal existence of a beautiful artistic creation.

Through personification, metaphor, imagery, and alliteration, the poem explores how emotions such as love can be captured by art and made immortal.

Aesthetic Appreciation of Nature

In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32, the speaker explores an aesthetic appreciation of nature through personification, metaphor, and imagery.

The poem begins by describing someone who views a beautiful piece of art that has been created in honor of their beloved: “My glass shall not persuade me I am old/ So long as youth and thou are of one date” (1-2).

These lines present a powerful image of eternity and suggest that artistic creation can make beauty immortal.

Later, we see the speaker’s admiration for the beauty of nature, which is also described in relation to timelessness: “The earth that’s nature’s mother is her tomb; What is her burying grave, that is her womb” (13-14).

Here, the speaker suggests that even death can be seen as a form of rebirth—a recurring cycle where nature carries on without fail.

Inspiration Behind Shakespeare's Sonnet 32

A few different sources likely inspired Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32. Firstly, the poem focuses on the power of art to capture timeless beauty and make it immortal.

This is reminiscent of Plato’s belief that “the artist creates something beyond nature itself,” and this concept could have inspired the poem.

Secondly, the idea of death being seen as a form of rebirth is consistent with themes from classical mythology, particularly Orpheus’ journey to the underworld in search of his beloved Eurydice.

Finally, there are many allusions to death in the bible, which could also explain some of the themes explored in Sonnet 32.


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 32 explores an aesthetic appreciation of nature through personification, metaphor, and imagery. In the first two lines, the speaker describes someone who views a beautiful piece of art that has been created in honor of their beloved.

Later, they express admiration for the beauty of nature and suggest that death can be seen as a form of rebirth, with nature carrying on without fail.

This poem was likely inspired by Plato’s belief in the power of art to capture timeless beauty and make it immortal, themes from classical mythology, and allusions to death in the Bible.

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Monika Soni is a passionate writer and history enthusiast who joined the FindingDulcinea team in July 2023. With a deep love for both ancient and political history, she brings a unique perspective to her articles, weaving together narratives that captivate and educate her readers. Monika holds a B.Sc. degree from the esteemed Govt. College of Girls, Panchkula. When she's not diving deep into historical research, Monika enjoys exploring local museums and historical sites. Her commitment to bringing history to life makes her a valuable asset to the FindingDulcinea community.

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