Analyzing Shakespearean Sonnet

William Shakespeare’s sonnet, That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold emphasizes that death is upon us stressing on the importance of love. By using metaphors he relates death to nature. Using symbolism of autumn leaves, twilight and glowing fire evolving to one conclusion awaiting death. By using Iambic meter he is showing a rising effect to get to the climax of the sonnet. Shakespeare shows how his character is weighed down by torment that his life is coming to an end. He is in search of sympathy saying if you see me like this you will love me even more. Therefore saying, love me now before I am gone or it may be too late.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang. In quatrain one, Shakespeare has come to the understanding that death is upon him by describing the changes of autumn leaves, bordering on the aging process and his hair turning gray. The boughs which shake are the tremors his body is having reminding himself once more that he is not as young as he use to be and ageing has left him feeling like he has lost the power to write. By focusing on the fact that ageing is a slow and discouraging process he is building on the hopes that someone will feel sorry for him and acknowledge the fact that he may die soon.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day As after sunset fadeth in the west, Which by and by black night doth take away, Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest. The second quatrain is focusing on twilight and the metaphors adjoining death. This is the time between night and day symbolizing life and death, he is saying that I am close to death I don’t have much time. In the last two sentences of the quatrain, the end of the day resembles the end of life and showing how sleep and death are the same. He is coming to grips with accepting death but he has a wish for the sympathy of his loved one to see him through it.

In me see’st 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. In quatrain three, a glowing fire almost expired is in fact a shadow of what he once was. Showing how the fire that was once bright has grown dim and its ashes are the ruins of the flame are describing the process of death. The imagery being presented is the intensity and free being of his memories of his youth are what makes this process so much harder to grasp. By reinforcing the issues from quatrain one and two death is near, he is hoping that someone notices before he dies. The solution comes from the couplet. This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well which thou must leave ere long. He is saying if you see me like this you will love me even more and then I can go on to my death. But please acknowledge me because I will be gone soon and you will never get the chance again.

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I found Shakespeare’s portrayal extremely needy and self pitying. He starts in the first quatrain experiencing the fact that he has grown old using imagery of autumn and how yellow leaves will fall. Well in the process he has realized the mistakes he has made in the second quatrain and he wants to acknowledge them by saying please forgive me, so I will feel better. When in the third quatrain he has realized that no one is hearing him and he is stuck remembering his past mistakes. To then come to the realization that life will end and it is important to cherish every minute while it is here because you can never get it back once it is gone.

Shakespeare uses Iambic meter in this sonnet to show a rising element of suspense to get to the climax. Following a pattern of pauses that follow each of the quatrains helps to reflect on the emphasis of death. The pauses are what help define the emphasis on the sonnet. In quatrain one line #2 shows a pause after leaves, none, few stating an emotional awareness of slow the process of ageing can be and the effect it can have on a persons being. The meter of line #2 is Iambic meter emphasizing the stress of importance on the last word in each foot, – ` / – ` / – ` / – ` / – `. In the second quatrain line #7 shows the increase of speed in By and by black night doth take away, with a pause at the end. The twilight resembles the time that day becomes night, meaning when life turns to death. The meter of line #7 is Iambic meter showing the same emphasis as in quatrain #1, – ` / – ` / – ` / – ` / – `. In the third quatrain line #10 shows Iambic meter again, showing the pauses after on, of, and, youth, lie. Saying that now the inevitable is here my youth is gone and there is not much left of me that I can recognize, – ` / – ` / – ` / – ` / -`. The meter and rhythm in this sonnet are all Iambic meter showing rising, elevating, serious, and climatic experiences which helps the flow of the meaning to come through so much easier.

In conclusion, William Shakespeare displays the torment a man goes through when he is going to die. Each quatrain is written in Iambic meter to show the height of climax you are going to reach. The way he reinforces this is by showing the stages of his life through nature. Using symbolism as a form of comparison helps to peel the web in which he weaved. Each quatrain represented a comparison to the stages of death on behalf of his inner fear and frustration. By acknowledging death is coming he promotes self-pity over the fact that no one is hearing him. Through out the sonnet he comes to grips with the fact that death is inevitable and in the couplet he comes to the conclusion in which he was searching for. Love me now before I am gone, or it may be too late. What he is saying is life is too short don’t take it for granted because one day you will realize that you are old and dying too.