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Metaphors in sonnet 73 reveal the essence of things

A sonnet is a special form of poetry created at the beginning of the 13th century, probably by the Provencal troubadours. It is a rigid poetic form that consists of 14 lines, forming 2 of the quatrain (2 rhyme) and 2 tertset (2 or 3 rhyme). Sonnets are composed according to certain rules: the verse should end with points, words should not be repeated, the last word is a “keyword”. To the English poetry, a sonnet was introduced in the reign of King Henry VIII. However, the real popularity the English sonnet had gained with the rise of the British Renaissance. In the 90-ies of the 16th century, the sonnet was the most common poetic form in England.

The main themes which Shakespeare reveals in his sonnets are as follows: friendship, love, loyalty, death and time. However, each sonnet absorbs several topics. An example of this is the sonnet 73. Sonnet 73 depicts Death hand in hand with Love and subtly refers to the Time along with the Loyalty and Reflection.

It is obvious that the theme of sonnet 73 is the identification of the man’s ageing with the fall. Phrases "Twilight of those days" and "Flaming fire" stand for ageing and death that is coming soon. Perhaps, Shakespeare portrays himself at the end of his life. The life has not finished yet as the winter – the death– has not come but the inevitability of it is already in the air. The fading nature, the dying day and the dying fire reflect the mental state of the speaker, but also describe the things around him. In the present he sees only the sadness, all-encompassing night and the doom to rest. Shakespeare compares the youth with the charcoal left after the fire.

Metaphor as a stylistic device dominates in sonnet 73. The word “sunset” means old age. The phrase “black is night” is death. Metaphor “fire” stands for life. These metaphors are like all human life. They illustrate the human ageing, which can be compared with the tree that drops its leaves in autumn. In conclusion, the author makes little guidance, when addressing someone invisible, or perhaps himself, warning that nothing lasts forever. The moral of the sonnet is that only in the latter days of life a man begins to appreciate the life lived.

The analysis of this sonnet along with a range of other ones allows drawing the conclusion that different stylistic means in Shakespeare's sonnets are used selectively and in most cases do not serve as embellishment, but the disclosure of the truth, the idea of the poet.

A sonnet is a special form of poetry created at the beginning of the 13th century, probably by the Provencal troubadours. It is a rigid poetic form that consists of 14 lines, forming 2 of the quatrain (2 rhyme) and 2 tertset (2 or 3 rhyme). Sonnets are composed according to certain rules: the verse should end with points, words should not be repeated, the last word is a “keyword”.

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26 October 2016
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