Shakespeare's Sonnets

A Comparison of "Uncle Time" by Dennis Scott and Shakespeare's Sonnet 19

The subject of both Dennis Scott’s poem “Uncle Time” and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19 is time and its erosive quality. Both refer to the concept as a capitalized entity, emphasizing its powerful and often destructive nature primarily by way of vivid imagery. However, they diverge significantly when compared on the basis of tone; Sonnet 19 is arguably more emotive, indicative of the speaker’s psychological insecurities and personal affairs more so than of the general theme of time, while “Uncle Time” is more objective and less revealing about its speaker, focusing to a great extent on time’s sinister quality instead.

In “Uncle Time,” time is personified as an “ole, ole man”, who is at first characterized by languorous imagery like “long, lazy years on de wet san’” in the first stanza, but gradually the images attributed to him become more and more menacing, showing him to be “cruel” and encroaching on the reader’s life insidiously. By contrast, Sonnet 19 takes the format of a sonnet, whereby the first seven lines depict a flow of images of time personified: at first he is “devouring” in a series of devastating instances, blunting “the Lion’s paws” and making the “earth devour her own sweet brood.” The next seven lines then qualify...

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