“Sonnet 22: My glass shall not persuade me I am old” by William Shakespeare

Painting by Caravaggio

Painting by Caravaggio

My glass shall not persuade me I am old,
So long as youth and thou are of one date;
But when in thee time’s furrows I behold,
Then look I death my days should expiate.
For all that beauty that doth cover thee
Is but the seemly raiment of my heart,
Which in thy breast doth live, as thine in me:
How can I then be elder than thou art?
O, therefore, love, be of thyself so wary
As I, not for myself, but for thee will,
Bearing thy heart, which I will keep so chary
As tender nurse her babe from faring ill.
Presume not on thy heart when mine is slain;
Thou gav’st me thine, not to give back again.

This is an interesting sonnet about how we view ourselves, and specifically how we view ourselves reflected in the ones we love. It is one of the fair youth sonnets, so Shakespeare is addressing a young man.

His love for the youth makes him feel young. We have a clear image of the older man, looking at himself in the mirror, and seeing himself as younger than he actually is. He knows that as long as he feels this connection to the youth and enjoys the happiness he is experiencing, then he will continue to feel invigorated. Love after all keeps us feeling young.

Shakespeare acknowledges that this image he has of himself as being young is directly related to his feelings for the youth. As long as he continues to feel affection for the young man, he will feel young and energetic himself. But if his feelings begin to tire, and he starts seeing the youth as stale, hackneyed, and if his passion begins to wane, then his true age will once again show. He will lose the sense of rejuvenation that love has instilled within him.

There is a definite correlation between our emotional state and how we view ourselves. When we are happy, content, joyous, then we see ourselves in a positive light, emanating the feelings that are within. Likewise, when we are sad, depressed, or lonely, then we see ourselves as old, tired, ugly, and so forth.

Thankfully, I am happy right now in my life, and as I look in the mirror, I like the person I see. I hope your reflection makes you happy too. Cheers and blessings!


Filed under Literature

6 responses to ““Sonnet 22: My glass shall not persuade me I am old” by William Shakespeare

  1. Nice! I remember reading this in college!

  2. Alex Hurst

    I didn’t know he was addressing a young man, haha. I imagined it as his addressing a woman, and feeling as young as the woman he courted (hence the asking she not give his heart back)…. but going back, I can see your assessment clearly, as well.