In his sonnet, just as the imagery moves backwards from death to birth but with a final reference to death in the couplet, the quatrains take on new meanings in light of those that follow.
Q1 is an assertion that the speaker is not old, Q2 explains the reasons for this assertion.
It poses the fairly standard test of analysing one of the sonnets.
This is one of three questions to be answered in three hours.
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.
So – allowing ten minutes for making notes and maybe an outline plan, this shows what can be done in fifty minutes! Your answer should: Sonnet XXII 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?
However, they also change the imagery of the poems from those of old age such as ‘times furrows’ which was present in Q1, to ones of youth. The structure of the sonnet therefore demonstrates the rejuvenation that the speaker is claiming to receive because of his relationship with the young man.
In the couplet, the motivation for the sonnet becomes clear.