Explication of Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73”
In “Sonnet 73,” William Shakespeare utilizes a somber mood, strong imagery, and intense metaphors, which construct a window into the soul of a dying old man for Shakespeare’s audience to visualize the dreadful oncoming of death and question the meaning of life. “Sonnet 73” is identical in structure to Shakespeare’s other sonnets with three quatrains and ending in a couplet. In the three quatrains Shakespeare compares the narrator to the transition from late fall to winter, the coming of darkness at the end of the day, and the dying of a flame. Shakespeare uses a different quatrain to elaborate each of these three metaphors that all envelop the poem’s theme of mortality leading to death. Though the poem has a theme surrounded by death the ending couplet gives a slight relief to the somber mood by conveying a message that relays appreciation for love and compassion.
The somber mood in “Sonnet 73” allows Shakespeare to deliver his audience the gloomy experience of sensing death approach in a man’s declining years. “Sonnet 73” begins “That time of year thou mayst in me behold/When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang” (“Shakespeare”1-2). The poem opens with the narrator saying that you can see the end of fall in him. Shakespeare begins the somber mood early with these first two lines by having the narrator introduce himself as a dying season. This is the first of several illusions to death that set the somber mood of the poem. The next reference to death begins in the second quatrain with “In me thou seest 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” (“Shakespeare”5-8). The narrator is saying that you can only see the dim light left in his soul that will soon be taken by the darkness of death. In the second quatrain the somber mood of the poem and the reoccurring image of death can again be felt by Shakespeare’s...
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