Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shakespeare's Sonnet 73

I'm indebted to Herb Miller for this post. The insight is his, but since he says he'll never write it up, I guess I can use it without cheating him. He argues that the critics who believe "That time of year thou mayst in me behold" is not the praise of a devoted lover of the poet's old age, but rather the poet's dismissal of the Dark Lady of the sonnets. I suppose Herb's reading is based on Shakepeare's persona's not suddenly having aged and is further supported by the tropes of approaching ends, which signal not the end of the poet's life, but rather the end of the relationship. One might perhaps also find a reference to the end of physical passion in the death bed and dwindling fire imagery in the third quatrain in that the passion might be read as having exhausted itself upon its bed, the bed of the fire being the literal bed of the love making. The concluding words of the concluding couplet then might be seen as an ominous reference to a parting of ways and expression of the poet's will.

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