- Slides: 19
Shakespeare’s Sonnets SONNET 18 SONNET 73
William Shakespeare 1564 -1616 • English poet and playwright born in Stratford-on-Avon • Works include 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two narrative poems and several other poems • The first 126 appear to address an unnamed nobleman whom the speaker loves very much. • The rest are primarily addressed to a mysterious woman referred to as the “dark lady. ”
History of the Sonnet • The sonnet became popular during the Italian renaissance when an Italian poet, Francesco Petrarch, published a sequence of love sonnets addressed to an idealized woman called Laura • The form spread through Europe where poets wishing to write about love and romance popularized the form • Shakespeare adapted the form to create the Elizabethan or Shakespearean sonnet.
² SHAKESPEAREAN SONNET PATTERNS • Written as a fourteen-line lyric poem • Written in iambic pentameter—ten syllable lines with accents falling on every second syllable • Divided 14 lines into four parts. • Organized into three quatrains of four lines that follow an ABAB CDCD EFEF DD rhyme scheme • Contain a mixture of enjambment and end-stops
What is Iambic Pentameter? • Quite simply, iambic pentameter sounds like this: dee DUM, dee DUM. • It consists of a line of five iambic feet, ten syllables with five unstressed and five stressed syllables. • It is the first and last sound we ever hear—it is the rhythm of the human heart beat.
Note first person identifying this as a personal poem. Also, the rhetorical question sets the basic comparison of the poem. First Quatrain Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: The speaker uses simple, informal language to show familiarity with the object of his affections. Summer is personified to show summer and beauty cannot last.
Second Quatrain Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd; The “eye” and “his…complexion” continue the personification to show that nature is not perfect. This refers to the natural changes that age brings.
The choice of diction here and with “lease” refers to economics inferring that “he” is the speaker’s property. The volta moves from a literal discussion of summer to the subject’s beauty, which highlights the effectiveness of poetry. Third Quatrain But thy eternal summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st; Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st; The personification is inverted here to describe the beloved in terms of nature. The extended metaphor of nature concludes in this final line suggesting that love needs cultivating (like rows of crops). Death is personified to exaggerate the beloved’s triumph.
Final Couplet So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this and this gives life to thee. The repetition of the word “So” adds to the speaker’s reasoning and reaffirms the poet’s hope that as long as mankind is in existence, his poetry will survive as well his the immortality of his muse. The rhyming couplet and the simple diction reinforce the sincerity of the speaker’s emotion. Most critics attribute the subject of this poem to Shakespeare’s dear friend and patron.
Sonnet 73 That time of year thou mayst 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 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. 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 perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Content The sonnet addresses the poet’s thoughts of his own mortality while addressing the ravages of time on his physical well-being and the mental anguish of moving closer to death. • The speaker prepares his young friend for the metaphorical death of his youth and passion. • The linear development of the quatrains shows that focus. The first two quatrains establishes what the young man sees: yellow leaves, bare boughs, and a fading sun. The third quatrain reveals the metaphor—the speaker laments the death of his youth and his youthful desires—the things that sustained his relationship with the young man. Throughout the sonnets addressed to the young man, the poet repeatedly imparts his wisdom of Time’s wrath and the effect it will have on both of them.
First Quatrain That time of year thou mayst 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. The time of year referenced by the speaker is autumn, the season the represents old age. The speaker prepares his friend for his coming “winter”—the death of his youth and passion. Metaphors for aging continue throughout the poem. The use of commas create focus on the negative images associated with the effects of time. “Bare ruin’d choirs” refer to the ruins of a church where once birds sang.
Second Quatrain Metaphor for aging continues with “twilight, ” which is the fading of his youth. 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. The abundance of negative diction adds to the depressing tone and adds a note of self-pity. Death is personified here to stress the speaker’s anxiety. Alliteration of the “S” sound illustrates the ease with which the latter stage of life comes.
Third Quatrain 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. The negative imagery continues as does the metaphor of aging as the fire extinguishes leaving only the “ashes” of his youth. This final metaphor fails to represent a cycle of life, so his “ashes” represent the end. Note how the metaphors shorten in each quatrain: months to hours to minutes. This represents the rapid rate at which old age attacks the body.
Final Couplet This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long. The couplet is the volta. The subject moves away from the poet and the comments are directed at the “lover, ” who is being warned to strengthen his emotions as the speaker “must leave ere long. ” Critics debate this phrase. Does the poet infer the young man will also lose his youth and passion or does the poet refer to his own imminent demise? Is the poet begging the young man to continue to love him?
Works Cited Shakespeare, William. Sonnet 73. Ed. Amanda Mabillard. Shakespeare Online. 8 Dec. 2012. < http: //www. shakespeare-online. com/sonnets/73 detail. html http: //www. cieliterature. com/as-level-songs-of-ourselvespart-1/