Essay: Shakespeare's Sonnets 18, 73, 97

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[. . .] He continues to explain this analogy by comparing himself to dying embers -- "In me thou sees't 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" -- and explains that it is the fear created by his now limited time on earth that compels the woman he loves to love him more because it will not be long before he succumbs to the inevitable, and "This thou perceivest, which makes they love more strong,/To love that well which though must leave ere long" (9-12; 13-14). By commenting on his impending death, and how it mirrors the transition from autumn into winter, the narrator not only contends that he should make the most of the time he has left, but he simultaneously urges his readers to appreciate nature more because even though the leaves on the tree will return in the spring and summer, they will never be the same as they are at that exact moment.

In Sonnet 97, "How like a winter hath my absence been," seasonal symbolism is used to illustrate narrator's emotional state. In the first quatrain, Shakespeare uses the emptiness and cold associated with winter to describe the emptiness he feels when he is away from his lover. He writes, "How like a winter hath my absence been/From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!/What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!/What old December's bareness every where" (1-4). The narrator then proceeds to establish that although he feels the coldness of winter in his heart, it is not actually winter, but "yet this time removed was summer's time/The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,/Bearing the wanton burden of the prime,/Like widow'd wombs after their lord's decease," which not only indicates the time of year but also establishes that the world around him was lush and full of life, which although he recognizes, he does not feel (5-8). He continues to lament that even though the world around him is bright and full of life, it appears muted and dull to him because she is not there to share it with him. He explains that "the very birds are mute:/Or, if they sing, 'tis with so dull a cheer,/That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near" (12-14). The narrator maintains that as long as his lover is away, he will not be able to feel anything besides the cold emptiness of winter in his heart.

Through seasonal symbolism, Shakespeare is able to illustrate his interpretations of beauty, mark the passage of time, and lament being away from the woman he loves. Shakespeare's use of seasonal symbolism allows him to describe what he sees and feels in a manner that others can relate to, thus making his poetry more accessible and understandable.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. "Sonnet 18." Web. 17 April 2013.

-. "Sonnet 73." Web. 17 April 2013.

-. "Sonnet 97." Web. 17 April 2013. [END OF PREVIEW]

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Shakespeare's Sonnets 18, 73, 97.  (2013, April 18).  Retrieved December 9, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/shakespeare-sonnets-18-73-97/8862072

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"Shakespeare's Sonnets 18, 73, 97."  Essaytown.com.  April 18, 2013.  Accessed December 9, 2019.
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