Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.
Nativity, once in the main of light,
Crawls to maturity, wherewith being crown’d,
Crooked elipses ‘gainst his glory fight,
And Time that gave doth now his gift confound.
Time doth transfix the flourish set on youth
And delves the parallels in beauty’s brow,
Feeds on the rarities of nature’s truth,
And nothing stands but for his scythe to mow:
And yet to times in hope my verse shall stand,
Praising thy worth, despite his cruel hand.
The sonnet is a meditation on mortality. Almost as an afterthought the beloved is mentioned, in the final line, as one who might be preserved from the total oblivion of time’s destruction. But despite its defiance, the closing couplet hardly rescues the reader from the thought that everything that is mortal must perish, for our minutes, and the minutes of our remembrance, move ever forward as irrevocably as the waves move forward, beating ceaselessly on the shore.
The sonnet seems to be placed deliberately at this point, as number 60, to coincide with the 60 minutes of the hour, just as No.12 marks the twelve hours of the day. There is even a pun included in line 2, (hour minutes) so that the reader need not lose his/her bearings in the sequence.