The Seasons of Life

| | Comments (0)

    "As after the sunset fadeth in the West,/ Which by and by black night doth take away,/ Death's second self that seals up all in rest" (102).

    In Sonnet 73, Shakspeare is talking about the seasons of life; a theme that appears in a number of his sonnets. In the Spring of someone's life is when they are young and new to the world. The Summer represents the peak physical and mental years, probably the 20's and 30's. The Fall is when a person is starting to get along in years and is facing their own mortality and Winter is when a person is dying. This poem focuses on the Fall. Shakespeare writes in lines 2, 3 and 4: "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" (102). The leaves, which he seems to have a fondness for, are almost all gone from the trees. I took this to mean that many of his friends and loved ones he cherished in the earlier years or seasons of his life are dying or moving on away from him. As for the absence of the birds' song, I think this could mean that he is not experiencing as much joy in life as he did. At one point, he would just live his life and the cheerful birds would chirp in the background and everything was fine. Now that he is aging and is thinking more about death, the sweet music has faded.

    The reader knows that Shakespeare is contemplating his mortality, which he is often more cryptic about in his poetry, because of lines such as the first one quoted at the beginning of this blog and "In me thou seest the glowing of such fire,/ That on the ashes of his youth doth lie, As the death bed, whereon it must expire" (103). The speaker in the poem realizes that he is no longer young as made clear when he states that he is lying "on the ashes of his youth" (103). The frequent mention of death and even of the "twilight" (102) makes me think that he is coming to the end of the Fall and approaching Winter or death. He is looking back on his life and possibly searching for some sort of meaning.

     Finally, the speaker addresses his lover in the end couplet. I think that his lover his younger than he is and he knows that he is going to die before she does because he tells her: "This [his death] thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong" (103). Even though his lover knows he is going to die, she is staying with him and still loves him. This is quite a romantic notion.

     Overall, I enjoyed this sonnet. It is far more to the point than many of Shakespeare's sonnets I have read. I also enjoy the comparison of life to the changing stages of the seasons...

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.