The audience is clearly the beloved, in the first instance, as there is tender intimacy in places, and can be interpreted as a gift used to woo. But the work can be accepted as directed at a universal audience, capable of understanding the messages. This essay will examine the speaker's tone as he applies it to the themes of death and immortality, and his belief in the power of his work to transcend one and create the other.
No matter that 'marble' or monuments contain the strength of stone, as the visual imagery alludes, or that 'princes' are powerful, his written word is more lasting than either. With the next two lines, the tone becomes more tender and intimate, directed at the beloved and declaring that because of those words, he too will endure.
The metaphorical adjective applied to time signifies his dismissal of it; he can transcend it with love and words. The poet is saying that the beloved will never be tarnished or eroded by time, because of his love and because the verse has made him immortal. There can be little doubt of Shakespeare's intent, for he is praising the object of his love and the poem itself. 'Wasteful wars' and 'broils' (battles), 'Mars his sword', and 'war's quick fires' may destroy the strong stone edifices, but never burn or ruin "The living record of your memory." (l. 8) This 'living record' is metaphorically related to the written word, while 'memory' literally places it alive in the minds of all. The subject again is the poet's lover and his own poem. This tone is so confident, and as history shows, this was not misplaced.
The Enduring Love must be included as an apparent motivating creative force. The loved one will never be forgotten, thanks to the love he has engendered, and the place he has been given in posterity by the poet. These assertions contain that tone of certainty again, supported by tenderness. There is no insincere flattery, rather the work can be seen as an honest declaration of love, designed to woo and win the heart.
".your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity. (l. 10-11)
He is telling the subject, be it the lover or the verse, that he, the speaker has made certain of this through the power of his words. Paper and pen are mightier than any destructive power, and have immortalized the person and the poem. There is tenderness in the use of the possessive pronoun, 'your' but as ever, that belongs to the sonnet and the lover; he is certain he has given eternal life to both.
In dealing with death, he is full of exultant self-belief. While he accepts its inevitability, he asserts that he can, and has, overcome its power.
"'Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth;" (l. 9-10),
In the line that follows "the eyes of all posterity" - "That wear this world out to the ending doom." (l. 12), he is asserting that when the world ends, so long as just one person is left alive with a mind and a memory, both the words of the poet and