From Autumn to Ash: Shakespeare's Sonnet 73
The swelling energy and particularization of imagery of season, time, and light both complement and counter the speaker's fading body in Shakespeare's Sonnet 73. Moving from metaphors of abstract bleakness to those of specific vitality and passion within and across each quatrain, Shakespeare's sonnet draws on the paradox of his decaying body that houses a still-breathing soul to fashion yet another parallel metaphor, that of his relationship with his youthful lover.
The first quatrain examines the sonnet's most general metaphoric description of the speaker's aging body, Autumn. Shakespeare fails to specify even what season he is referring to in the opening line; it is known only as "That time of the year thou mayst in me behold" (1). That "me" comes after "thou" and near the end of the line also signifies the lack of detail the speaker places on himself in the first quatrain. In the second and third quatrains this is inverted, as "In me thou seest" becomes a more insistent and refined initiation (5, 9). Shakespeare continues the conceit of subject refinement as he first describes Autumn's "yellow leaves" as simply existing, then concedes there may be...
Join Now to View Premium Content
GradeSaver provides access to 780 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 5383 literature essays, 1608 sample college application essays, 212 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.
Already a member? Log in