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Analysis of Sheakespeare's Sonnet 73 "That time of year thou mayst in me behold"

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´╗┐Karabelas Libby Karabelas Mr. Wood AP English Literature and Composition 31 October 2012 Aging Through Symbolism When William Shakespeare wrote his sonnets, a group of 152 poems in all, he focused heavily on the concept of decay over time (CITE). Sonnet 73, ?That time of year thou mayst in me behold?, was certainly no exception. In this poem Shakespeare uses metaphors to describe his aging process, invoking three mental pictures of how he interprets this decline. It is clear throughout the poem that the message pertains to the impermanence of youth. But in the last couplet we see that, specifically, Shakespeare is discussing his decline with a loved one, and presuming that this sorrowful loss will strengthen the love they feel. William Shakespeare was not a simple-minded man; that was to be sure. He shows through his complex writing style and use of several simultaneous figures of speech that he is a skillful and creative writer. Indeed, as one of the most well known writers in history, Shakespeare would naturally be adept at conveying his feelings. He is obviously a sensitive, emotional person; his topic displays the inner workings of a highly reflective mind, keenly focused on his mental upset about his aging. ...read more.


This night is characterized as an extension of death itself, a sort of evil twin, that will envelop the world and put everyone to sleep. Both the darkness and the sleep itself are related to death here, which is as close as the author comes to directly saying that he is dreading his own death. The daylight of his youth has expired, and it is now literally going to be stolen from him by ?night??by death?and he will be put to rest. This is where one might think that the author is discussing his fear of literally dying, rather than just aging in general or the loss of his youth. Here the tone is even more somber than in the first quatrain, because instead of focusing on the good things that used to be, he looks more upon the evil things that will be. ?twilight?(CITE) and ?sunset?(CITE) are not terribly sad mental images. One tends to picture Shakespeare?s decline as a more graceful transition, due to the elegant connotation that both of these words carry, and the inclusion of the ?by and by?(CITE) saying. This saying refers to a gradual transition, more epic in nature than the simple darkening of a single day. ...read more.


Even if it is not intended as so, the poem is motivation to live well and prosper, appreciating what you have before it?s too late. He also brings up the relatable notion of burning yourself out; and this burning out could happen in not only a general sense but in regards to a particular activity or person. It is a hard feeling to describe, when something that you used to have such love for is no longer interesting to you, but Shakespeare?s metaphor describes it perfectly. Shakespeare?s overall message here, of the fleetingness of youth and life and vitality, is timeless. Shakespeare presumably wrote this sonnet at a time of mid-life crisis. It is an appeal to a loved one to see the impermanence of his youth, by objectifying himself as a season, a day, or a burning fire, and comparing the respective endings of all three. His writing style, in typical Shakespearian fashion, is of flowing sentences and intricate descriptions, offering metaphors within metaphors. Amongst these descriptions his tone goes from melancholy to sorrowful, and he describes all images from a pessimistic angle. The overall effect of the poem sparks in the reader self-questioning in which they may look at their own fleeting youth. None, however, would be able to describe any sad feelings they turn up so well as Shakespeare did, presenting a haunting picture of death, loss, and apprehension. ...read more.

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