A Comparison Between Shakespeare?s Sonnet 73 And Essay, Research Paper
William Shakespeare, who lived during the second half of the 16th century and the early 17th century, wrote sonnets 73 and 12, both fourteen-line poems written to an anonymous lover. Similarly, the sonnets discuss the themes of time, love, and finally death. Both sonnets use ABAB rhyme, meaning that the first line rhymes with the third, whilst the second line rhymes with the fourth, etc. Both use an iambic pentametre, or the rhythm of the poem, using a weak, strong rhythm, imitating the passing of time. Also, both sonnets contain 10 syllables in each line. Sonnet 73 uses 3 sets of 4 lines to separate the poem, summarising the poem with two lines at the end. The theme of the sonnet is that love is stronger than time and decay, but does not survive death. The iambic pentameters signify the passing of time, and therefore the writer´s life, showing that the writer is nearing the grave and can´t possibly stop the time from passing. In this sonnet, the poet compares himself to three different things, the first being autumn:
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang”
“thou”, a less formal way to say “you”, represents the love of the writer´s life. The poem takes place in the autumn of his life. The caesurae, pauses in a line of poetry, in line 2, slow down the pace of the poem, representing the slow speech of an elderly man. There is a comparison between “hang” in line 2, which describes the present (autumn), and “sang”, the summer. This contrast shows the stages of the man´s life. The word “boughs”, bare branches, also implies that it is autumn. The enjambement, no pause at the end of a line, in the poem shows the continuation of time.
The metaphor “ruin´d choirs” in line 4, can have two possible meanings in this poem- Firstly, it can mean the tree, which in summer birds had sung on, but the bringing of autumn took the life from the tree. Secondly, the ruined choir can represent the monasteries, which were burnt down during the Reformation during the 16th century, and shows lack of praise and harmony. The words “twilight of such day”, in line 5, the beginning of the second quatrain, represents the evening of the writer´s life. “Sunset fadeth” explains how once the sun has gone down, all he has to look forward to is darkness and death.
“Which by and by black night doth take away”. The alliteration of the letter b, emphasises the fact that evening is becoming night, and making you more aware that there is a relentless passing of time. “Death´s second self” explains that night is the death of every day and all that he has to look forward to is eternal sleep. This line uses alliteration of the letter s, a gentle sound, which reflects what the poet is talking about. In this quatrain, the writer compares himself to darkness, as darkness represents the end of his life. In the third quatrain, the writer compares himself to “fire”.
“In me thou seest the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie”
He explains that he is like a fire going out. The ashes symbolise the fire (youth) disappearing. The ashes compare to the things that used to energise him, which now, in fact, wear him down. The writer predicts his own death and that he will die in his own bed.
“As on the death-bed whereon it must expire”.
It, which represents him is nearing death and foresees his death. The final two lines,
“This thou perceiv´st which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long”, are the writer´s last words to his love. He explains that she must love him very much if she knows that he is leaving her forever, as love must be very strong to survive death. The message of these last two lines is that death cannot be prevented and love is extremely unlikely to survive it.
The second sonnet, Sonnet 12, unlike Sonnet 73 contains an octave, 8 lines for observation, followed by a sestet, 6 lines for reflection. The iambic pentametres in this sonnet are like the ticking of a clock to show time passing. The first line presents the passing of time and how the writer sits and waits for it to pass.
“When I do count the clock that tells the time”.
In the second line, the word “brave” describes the day as being glorious, and the word “hideous”, the night as being dark and spooky.
“And see the brave day sunk in hideous night”. “sunk” represents the sundown, and light has been replaced with dark.
“When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls all silver´d o´er with white”. The “violet”, is the withering flowers, and “sable” (black) curls which turn grey, then white. These things present decaying, of both humans and of nature.
“When lofty trees I see barren with leaves” gives us some idea as to what season the poem is describing, as the line describes tall, majestic trees which are losing their leaves. Also, line 6 helps us to understand that the poem is set in the autumn, as it explains how herds of animals, which used to take cover under the shade of the trees to protect themselves from the heat of the sun, can no longer do that. It is implying that that is because the leaves have fallen from the trees, and all that remains are bare branches.
“Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer´s green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard”. Lines 7 and 8 explain how the sheaves of corn which grew during the summer have been tied and bundled up, and carried away on a bier (cart), which can also be interpreted as being a coffin. The corn is compared to death, as some of the sheaves look old and a kind of whitish, and when you are old and die you may have a white beard and are therefore carried away on a bier. Lines 9 and 10,
“Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go” are the writer saying to his love how time will destroy her beauty.
Line 12 describes how when one generation dies another one is born, “And die as fast as they see others grow”.
The “scythe” in line 13, is a tool, and used by the grim reaper, and can be seen how time cuts down everything.
“And nothing ‘gainst Time´s scythe can make defence,
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence”.
The final line is the writer saying to his wife that because death cannot be prevented, the best thing to do is make offspring, so that once they are dead, at least they have left their children. Sonnet 73 describes how he is loved, although he is old but says how their love will not survive death, and Sonnet 12 is a message for his love- that they must make babies to attempt the prevention of death. The themes of time and love are extremely common in poems today and they will never grow old. Shakespeare uses interesting methods to bring across the theme of the passing of time, such as using enjambement and caesuras. Unlike in the Sonnet 73, I believe that if love is strong enough, it will survive death.