Sonnet 73

Sonnet 73

by William Shakespeare

That time of year thou may’st in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

Summary of Sonnet 73

  • Popularity: Written by William Shakespeare, a renowned English poet, and playwright, “Sonnet 73”is a beautiful composition that compares life with the cosmos. It was first published in 1609. The poem explores the phenomenon of time and the aging The popularity of the poem lies in the representation of life with time when compared with the whole universe.
  • “Sonnet 73” Representative of Life and Time: As this poem is about the age of life, the poet tells his friend that he needs him the most in his old age when the spring of his life is going to fade away. The speaker illustrates that he has less time to live through vivid imageries such as “winter bough”, “twilight’s afterglow” and “fire’s dying”. These imageries reflect that he is heading toward his impending death. Therefore, he imagines himself on deathbed, calling for the love and sympathy of his friend. He sums up the purpose of the revelation of his decreasing powers in the closing couplet, where he requests his friend to love him more when he is on the verge of death. The poem contains an important message that the power of true love can help us to pass the trials of our lives happily.
  • Major Themes: The poem comprises two major themes; love and death. The natural imagery used in the poem develops the idea that death is unavoidable. Heading toward the end of life, the speaker portrays the cycle of life and immortal nature of human beings. Considering man’s mortality, he explores the theme of love that will stand despite old age. In fact, he wants his love to understand the transience of life. To him, death will separate them. Therefore, they should make the most of what time has offered them.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Sonnet 73”

Literary devices are tools that represent the writer’s idea, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their words appealing to the readers. Shakespeare has also used some literary devices in this poem to discuss the phenomenon of aging and time. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been listed below.

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration refers to the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same lines of poetry such as /s/ sound in “Death’s second self that seals up all in rest.”
  2. Imagery: The use of imagery enables readers to understand the writer’s feelings and emotions. Shakespeare has used visual imagery such as, “When yellow leaves”, “sunset fadeth in the west,”, “by black night doth”, “thou see’st the twilight” and “boughs which shake against the cold.”
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is the act of using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. Shakespeare has used symbols such as, “Black night “and “sunset fadeth.” Both night and sunset symbolically stand for end or death.
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same line such as /b/ sound in “Which by-and-by black night doth take away.”
  5. Personification: Personification is to attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects. Shakespeare has used personification in the eighth line, “Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest” as if the death is human to have a self.
  6. Metaphor: Shakespeare has used metaphors at several places in the poem such as, When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang”, “the twilight of such day”, “black night” and “glowing of such fire that on the ashes of his youth doth lie.” These metaphors convey the late stages of his life. These phrases represent present, past and future time.
  7. Metonymy: It is a figure of speech that replaces the name of things with something else with which it is closely associated. Here “bare ruin choirs” substitute the stripped branches.

The closer glimpse of literary analysis reveals that Shakespeare has skilfully projected his ideas about old age and love under the cover of these literary devices.

Analysis of poetic devices in “Sonnet 73”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Sonnet: A Shakespearian sonnet consists of fourteen lines made up of three quatrains and one rhyming couplet.
  2. Quatrain: A quatrain is a four-lined stanza taken from Persian poetry. Here first three stanzas are quatrains.
  3. Couplet: There are two constructive lines in a couplet, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme. This sonnet ends with a couplet, which usually reveals the central idea of the poem such as,

“This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.”

  1. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme followed by the entire sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
  2. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Shakespeare has used end rhyme in this poem such as in the first and second lines of the first stanza the rhyming words are, “behold”, “cold”, “hang” and “sang.”
  3. Iambic Pentameter: It is a type of meter consisting of five iambs. This poem comprises iambic pentameter such as, “That time of year thou mayst in me be

Quotes to be Used

These lines can be used in a speech when discussing the changing wheel of nature. These can also be used when teaching to the children about the autumn season that leaves the branches lifeless and bare.

“When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”