Although young people may profess to love life, no one can truly understand the journey from birth to death as much as one who is nearing their conclusion of it. Both Robert Burns’ “John Anderson, My Jo” and Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 73” convey the idea that aging brings forth an appreciation for life and love while also holding a realistic view that death is inescapable. In “Sonnet 73,” aging strengthens the love between a couple, while in “John Anderson, My Jo” age is accepted by an elderly couple and used as a symbol of their love for one another. As both speakers age and near death, a newfound respect for love is found through the realization that love is not merely a physical emotion. Though the speakers deal with the decay of their youth in different ways, both works find a common theme by discussing partners in a relationship dealing with the aging of their loved ones. Both of these partners also come to terms with age in the works, accepting it as a natural and inevitable process. The refusals of the lovers to let the physical diminishments of growing older create a gap between them results in a stronger bond while adding importance to the fading aspect of youth.
The use of natural metaphors is a powerful presence in both works. Though the metaphors are used to describe the speaker’s journey away from youth and towards death, the atmosphere and tone they present are almost entirely opposite. In “Sonnet 73”, the speaker compares his state to the twilight of a day, his light being slowly stripped away by the black night. This imagery presents a mood of darkness and loneliness, in which the speaker feels isolated because he is undertaking the experience of becoming old alone. Although his lover remains faithful to him despite his age, there is a lack of understanding between the two because the lover cannot relate to what the speaker is going through due to their difference in age and maturity. On the other hand, in “John Anderson, My Jo” the speaker uses a...
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