"When I do count the clock that tells the time- and "Full many a glorious morning have I seen-, are both beautiful sonnets which are reflective of the natural world and its consequences. Both sonnets are divided into three quatrains with a rhyming couplet at the end. The rhyme scheme is in ABAB CDCD EFEF GG form. These sonnets are also in iambic pentameter.
"When I do count the clock that tells the time- is reflective of how in life, both death and time are inevitable forces. The tone of this sonnet is bitter to a degree, but more reflective of the juxtaposition of beauty and the grief which life has to offer. Time is seen as a destructive force which we all will succumb to in the end.
The first quatrain deals with decay and the idea that time stands still for no man, even if man is sitting still. The narration begins with a thought of time. In the first two lines the narrator says all hope in life will eventually turn to dust when the "hideous night," or death, approaches. In the second line, the word "brave- describes the day as being glorious, and the word "hideous- describes the night as being sinister. "And see the brave day sunk in hideous night-. Here, "sunk- represents the sundown, and the deep vowel sound of the u' reflects the negative image that is implied.
The narrator goes on to reflect how youth fades into old age, and these physical changes appear in the next two lines. The "violet past prime" represents spring and youth, which is fleeting. "When I behold the violet past prime, And sable curls all silver'd o'er with white-. The violet is a metaphor to represent the beauty of youth, followed by the destruction of life through age, and "sable- (black) curls which turn grey, then white with age. These things present decaying, of both humans and of nature.
The iambic pentameter in this sonnet is like the ticking of a clock to show time passing. The steady, continuos one-syllable-at-a-time rhythm imitates the ticking of a clock.