Ages & Sins 6: Old Age

This sonnet explores the significance of love during Shakespeare’s “sixth age”. It is a response to the negative connotations in Jaques’ famous “All the world’s a stage” monologue. The themes of a “shrunk shrank”, “whistles” in the voice and “spectacles on nose” are positively interpreted.

The first quatrain uses repeated prolepsis (the use of a descriptive word in anticipation of it becoming applicable). Several examples of “it” are given without an explanation of what “it” is. This is revealed with the first word of the second quatrain “Love”. Love is followed with a full stop to create a pause for reflection: caesura.

Other linguistic techniques include onomatopoeia “beats bold”; which is also alliterative as is “Love. Like a lava” and “beam … buttress … brace”. There are several similes using “like” to draw comparison plus metaphors to illustrate the structural importance of grandparents’ love.

Sixth Sense
Time makes it stronger like maturing cheese;
Like wine or whiskey it improves with age;
Like Roman concrete mixed for salty quays
It becomes surer as the years' waves rage:
Love. Like a lava island bigger grows,
So when the shank of the sixth age is shrunk
The child who holds the grandparent’s hand knows
The heart beats bold inside the ageing trunk.
The whistle in the voice is the love song –
The trilling of the wren on autumn eves;
The glasses on the nose make focus strong
To help see dreams that the grandchild believes.
	The sixth age fortifies the human race
	It is the beam, the buttress and the brace.


  1. Love this interpretation Alex – as sage as the sixth age. Good to get a refresh of the various literary devices too. Bravo!

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