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Shakespeare's Sonnet #73 Essay

778 words - 3 pages

Shakespeare's Sonnet #73, published in 1609, is written in the Shakespearean or English sonnet style. It consists of three quatrains and one couplet at the end, written in iambic pentameters. Each quatrain has its own rhyme scheme, rhyming in alternating lines. The couplet summarizes the preceding twelve lines. Sonnet 73 appears to contain multiple parallels to death and the person speaking in the poem gives the impression that he is near death and reflecting back upon life.
The first quatrain, “That time of the year thou mayst behold me/ When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang/ Upon those boughs which shake against the cold/ Bare ruin choirs where late the sweet bird sang.” He seems to be comparing his life the unspecified season, which could either be autumn or winter. If a person were to look at only this quatrain, Shakespeare seems to describe autumn, with images of yellow leaves and a place where a bird sang. However, if the whole sonnet is looked at Shakespeare seems to describe the effects of winter. Shakespeare reinforces the confusion of season with the rearrangement of the natural sequence of events. He says, none before few in describing the leaves hanging, and reminds us of summer with the image of the bird. This serves as a reminder of the encroaching winter. The transposition of "none" and "few" could also imply that a second look to the landscape, as with death. Upon, another glance, death is not here but coming. This quatrain appears to arrest the very process invoked. The winter is never-ending.
In the second quatrain, “In me thou seest the twilight of such day/ As after sunset fadeth in the west/ Which by and by black nigh doth steal away/ Death’s second self, which seals upon rest.” Shakespeare seems to say death comes like night, dark and quiet, like a thief, stealing when we sleep. Meaning, death will come, without question. He plays upon the sun setting, which in some cultures was a god dying every evening (and he would be reborn every morning). The sun setting could also be regarded as the sun going to sleep, which plays on the last line of the quatrain, "Death's second self, which seals upon rest." This line talks of the eternal sleep, or death. This quatrain suggests a night without the possibility of day, "seals upon rest."
In the third quatrain, “In me the glowing of such fire/ That on the ashes of his youth doth lie/ As the...

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