Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare

The task here is to identify and elucidate on the impact of figurative language in William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73.

Lines 1, 5, and 9 contain both repetition in drawing the attention to the condition of the speaker and use symbolism to reflect what that condition is.  Line 1 reads:

That time of year thou may’st in me behold

This first line suggests that we are about to discover what season of life he is in; Spring, Summer, Autumn, or Winter or in real terms, youth, prime adulthood, elder years, or final years.  In line 5:

In me thou see’st the twilight of such day

We see that our writer is on the downside of life slipping toward the end but not yet quite into the night which would more than likely signify his impending death.  Line 9 again draws us to his condition as it reads:

In me thou see’st the glowing of such a fire

Once again, the fire is dying down, as is the life of the author however, life is still left as the fire still glows.

Parsing the sonnet we have the following:

That time of year thou may’st in me behold

When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang

Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,

Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

The symbolism in the first line is defined by the extended metaphor of the following three lines.  We see yellow leaves, or none; that it is cold; and that the birds have left, which puts us in the mind of late autumn.

In me thou see’st 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 above is a strong example of symbolism as we see strong images of the writer in the later stages of life approaching the “end of light” which death “seals up.”

In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,

That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,

As the deathbed whereon it must expired,

Consumed with that which it was nourished by.

Here it appears Shakespeare uses personification in relating the dying out and the process of a fire as to a human life.  The glowing fire is the elder, ashes are beneath the fire just as youth has passed to develop the adult, the deathbed of a person is the cold embers of the fire which at one point was solid wood that nourished the flames as to a person is consumed by life.

I find all of the above methods effective of painting a picture in my mind but I am more in tune with the extended metaphor and personification for clarity in understanding.  Some of the symbolism takes a much closer reading to be able to interpret.

Some other figurative language is used such throughout the sonnet.  The boughs are personified as they shake against the cold.  A person may do that but a bough would not feel the cold in the same way.  Metonymy is used in substituting “bare ruined choirs” for the empty, stripped branches as well as in comparing the black night to death itself.

This sonnet, though brief is rich in figurative language pushing the reader to feel the waning of a life through its examples of nature.

Sonnet 73

1. The use of anaphora in lines 1, 5, and 9, serves to emphasize the images of nature in which the repeated phrases follow. Likewise, it allows the poet to further accentuate their personal connection and acquaintance with the references made. For example, the first image describes the changing autumn trees that are soon to be naked to the frigid cold of winter. Immediately following, the poet goes on to compare them-self to this condition–remarking upon their inevitably dwindling youth. Additionally, the employment of repetition helps to create a sense of progression, as the recurring phrase is refined as the poem develops. This continuing, but slightly altered, pattern provides the impression that the images are operating in order to help the narrator meet some sort of foreseen end (death).

2. Within lines 1-4, Shakespeare uses a descriptive metaphor to parallel and symbolize the transformation that the poet is experiencing, as their once colorful and lustrous life is expiring. Moving on to lines 5-8, he transitions from the seasons of the months, to the hours of day–underlining the shortness of life even further. More specifically, he continues to enhance the imagery through the personification of the empty night. The narrator shares that he has reached the twilight and the “black night” will soon approach to “take [him] away.” In lines 9-12, symbolism is applied through the image of fire. The “glowing” fire signifies the narrator’s dimming youth, as its dull embers will soon expire and turn to “ashes.” While each figure of speech proves to be effective, I prefer the example in 9-12. I particularly liked the descriptive vocabulary, as well as the impressionable portrayal of fire. Moreover, it especially stood out to me that in the third quatrain (lines 9-12) the narrator now realizes and accepts the permanence of death.

3. In lines 3-4, a more complex metaphor is found within the image of the “sweet birds” upon the “boughs.” In the phase “Bare ruined choir,” the word “choir” can refer to two very different meanings: the singing group and the place where the group is seated within the church building. With this, the duality of the word helps to further express the fleeting quality of youth by presenting two different but related connotations. Firstly, the “ruined choir” (the place) can be understood as a vacant, never to seat a joyous crowd again. This parallels the bare branches of winter, free of “sweet birds.”  Approaching the word “choir” as a singing group having been silenced (“ruined”) further emphasizes the lack of spirit and vivacity during the harsh, frigid nakedness of winter, as the “sweet” songs cease to be heard. This duality in definition helps to more effectively accentuate the reality that the liveliness of youth is fleeting and cannot return.

In lines 7-8, I recognized a sort of understatement, as the narrator “implies more by saying less” through his “restrained” characterization of death, which “seals up all the rest” (Howe, p. 19). Through this, the poet expresses a tragic truth in which much of humanity struggles to accept without experiencing, at the very least, significant uneasiness: death is inescapable and separates us from those we love (whether we’re prepared for it or not). Certainly, this use of understatement does not serve to reduce the narrator’s emotion concerning his demise, but instead, helps to “convey more depth” (Howe, p.19).

sonnet 73

1. The use of anaphora in lines 1,5,and 9 is Shakespeare’s way of conveying that some sort of major end is about to happen in the poem, presumably death. There is a similar phrasing in line thirteen, but instead of being in the first person,it is in the third. The verb has also changed from see and behold to perceive. The reason I think the repetition points towards death is due to the references to the sun setting, as well as the phrases “take away” and “as the deathbed whereon it must expire” that are used around lines 5 and 9.

2. Lines 1-4 have a heavy use of symbol. This is a very effective way figure of speech to use in the beginning because it allows for the reader to understand what Shakespeare is saying, without it being too blunt. The symbol of autumn and the day’s end also brings beauty to death,a topic that is usually seen as sad, and makes it more approachable from a writing standpoint.

Personification is used in lines 5-8, mostly in line 8. Night is personified by “taking away” the sun. Shakespeare uses the night as a way of death to also be personified as someone who takes and/or puts things away. This is a useful to the reader because it makes obvious the tone of the poem.

Personification is continued into lines 9-12, as well as symbol, but paradox is thrown into the mix in line 11, when death is called to its own deathbed. This was a bit confusing to me, and I had to reread this part of the poem multiple times before I found it. But I guess that is the point of paradox. I am not so sure how effective of a device it is though.

Of the figures of speech used in this sonnet, I think that symbol is the most effective. It is used throughout the text, and is the easiest to spot and figure out.

3. Lines 3-4 include synecdoche when he talks about the choir of birds that no longer sing, as well as us the word choir as to describe where the birds were perched. Metonym is in lines 7-8, in which the poet alludes to death’s own death.

Fiurative Language and Imagery in Shakespear’s Sonnet 73.

In this explication of Shakespeare’s sonnet 73,I will endeavor to examine the use of vocabulary, as well as explain what the figurative language adds to the poem. The speaker in this sonnet  has used imagery and some figurative language to depict his anxiety over aging. “That time of year thou may’st  in me behold,” here; there is a different picture of the season autumn or fall as the speaker approaches old age, he somehow makes a comparison of his own stage in life to it. In these lines 1, 5, and 9, the speaker uses anaphora as it involves the same syntactical structure  (Howe, p 15).  But, instead of seeing fall as a time of abundance, he imagines it as a sign of winter and of death ( Howe p.7). Its like comparing  how a person ages to that of a tree as it loses its leaves. In addition, the speaker paints a melancholy picture of what autumn will be like, “When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang upon those boughs.” This line immediately lets the reader know that there is a solemn, or dismal theme to the poem (p.12). In this particular sonnet, Shakespeare has used metaphors that talk about one thing as if it were another. Essentially, the metaphors mean the same whereby, the speaker seems to be slowly coming to grips with the finality of him getting to old age and the insubstantiality of time (Howe 7). The speaker uses the season of autumn or fall as metaphors for old age and death. The purpose of repetition in line 1, “That time of year thou may’st in me behold,” reflects that autumn season is approaching and it does sound like an assonance. So also is line 5 of the sonnet, “In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,” he describes or indicates the end of the day and the onset of nighttime. Again in line 9, “In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,” the speaker is expressing how a person in love glows. The figure of speech involved in lines 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12, are all metaphors that have been used for the imagery they bring to the sonnet. Equally important is the fact that the speaker throughout the poem used three major metaphors age, death and fire as imagery to show that human life is beautiful before death and light of day is similar to life, while, nighttime resembles death. The imagery used refers to a description  of a scene in the fall season. The three examples illustrate aging being compared to a tree as it loses its leaves in the fall. Then there is the comparison of death to nightfall “Which by and by black night doth take away death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.” Here, the speaker is alluding to death as the fading of a bright day to a dark night. The third example is that of fire where the speaker seems to be comparing himself to fire, “In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire, that on the ashes of his youth doth lie, as the deathbed whereon it must expire, consumed with that which it was nourished by.” Lines 9- 12 somehow depicts that as the fire dies, so also does the speaker. In lines 3-4, these are also metaphors that indicate the word choir refers to not only a group of persons singing in a church; but also to a place in the church where the choir sits (Howe, p21).

Ultimately, the speaker relates all three situations to each other. Basically, he means that a person must enjoy love when one has it, because all too soon love grows old and dies.

SONNET 73     sonnet

These pictures of sonnet 73 was taken from Google images.

Sonnet 73 Response

1. The repetitions in lines 1, 5, and 9 are a use of anaphora to emphasize the poet’s relation to the natural images that are sketched out after these lines. The use of the three references to the poet create the expectation that the poem will continue in this pattern every four lines. Shakespeare does, but instead of talking about the poet in line 13, he closes by talking to the receiver of the sonnet “this thou perceiv’st”. By continuing in the pattern, but surprising the reader at line 13, Shakespeare is able to bring the poem to a satisfying and sweet conclusion.

2. In lines 1-4, Shakespeare is using a metaphor for the poet’s feelings or well being. He is comparing his present state to the bare branches of wintertime. In lines 5-8, the poet discusses how the receiver sees him, and in line 8, personifies Death’s “second self” as twilight. In lines 9-12, Shakespeare uses the symbolism of the fire to represent fading youth. In many ways, the symbol of the fire resembles an allegory, except that it is not carried on throughout the rest of the poem. Each figure of speech is effective because they all use vivid imagery (bare ruined, fadeth, glowing) to illustrate the state that the poet is trying to describe. Personally, I prefer the symbolism because of the lines’ potent use of the words “glowing” “ashes” and “nourished”.

3. In lines 3-4, Shakespeare is comparing the branches to the ruins of a choir (where the choir sat in the church). This could be, I think, interpreted as both symbolism (the branches full of singing birds are like a thriving church) and antithesis (in line 4, he juxtaposes ruined choirs with sweet birds). In lines 7-8, Shakespeare is personifying “black night” because he is attributing the human action “take away” to it and “twilight” because it “seals up all in rest”.

Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare

1. The purpose of repetition in Sonnet 73 is to make the reader think about Shakespeares point of view and how he would see things such as the yellow leaves hanging or the twilight of such day. Shakespeare is using Anaphora to get his point across and show imagery.

2. In the entire Sonnet, he uses extended metaphor. In lines 1-4 he uses personification. He is using personification when he speaks on how the birds sing as if they were in a choir. Then in lines 5-8 he uses antithesis when he says, “death’s second self, that seals up all in rest” which he is comparing death and rest to one another. In 9-12  he uses personification like when he compares his youth to ashes or his deathbed that is to expire.

3.  In lines of 3-4 the placement of the birds on the branch(boughs) and a choir being a place and not only just a group of singer has something to do with one another. Then 7-8 relates to one another because death is suppose to be sealing up but in the next line he says that he has glowing of fire in him. If he was to die then the fire would not be glowing with in him.