Sonnet 73 Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayest in Me Behold This sonnet by William Shakespeare can be regarded as a quite regular representation of what is called a Shakespearean sonnet. Not only that it is written by him, but as one will see the structure and the theme are really close to what can be found in other typical Shakespearean sonnets. Talking about the form, it must be mentioned that the poem is divided into an octave consisting of two quartets and a sestet consisting of two tercets. The quartets are indicated by full stops whereas the existance of the tercets is not supported by punctuation marks. Nevertheless one can assume that there actually are two tercets although in this case it is not of any importance with regard to the content.
The heroic couplet .which is often hinted at by a caesura introduced by a full stop, is again not set apart from the rest of the text by a punctuation mark, but the content gives evidence to the fact that the last two verses do function as a heroic couplet (the message is formulated in this couplet). The rhyme scheme of the poem is definetely regular as you see cross rhymes throughout the first twelve verses and a pair rhyme in the heroic couplet (ababcdcdefefgg). Turning to the meter, again one realizes that Shakespeare tried to stick to the classic pattern of five iambic feet. Line four and eleven show slight deviations in stress as they do not begin with an unstressed syllable following a stressed syllable. Although there are a few exceptions in general the iambic pentameter is dominating the rythm of the sonnet.
So to sum up what has been said about the form so far, we can say that this sonnet, the few mentioned irregularities excluded, is very close to an ideal Shakespearean sonnet, especially with regard to matters like rhyme scheme or rythm. Similar things could be said about the theme of the poem: as in many other sonnets by Shakespeare the general theme could simply be called real love. Better to say, the topic is the transitoriness that accompanies this real love and how a lover should handle this fact. In the first stanza (the first quartet), the speaker compares himself to a season, which is not given by name. In lines two to four, the reader comes to know that it must be the autumn season that is described.
The image presented is an abondonned cold place where no living creatures, neither human beings nor animals, remain but all have left. So the end of the year serves as a symbol for the forthcoming death of the year. This has to be seen as an allusion to humans` mortality. The next stanza implies another image that evokes the same atmosphere. The speaker is said to be the twilight of the day which slowly vanishes as the night falls into the land and spreads its darkness.
This can be seen again as an allusion to men`s mortality as the author even calls the night Death`s second self (line 8). The next four lines suggest an image fitting to the ones before: this time the speaker is compared to a glowing fire which is about to go out. Just as in the first eight lines the speaker is confronted with merciless death. So to summarize the first twelve lines, provide images of death, and what they all have in common is that the speaker is in a situation that suggests that he is without any chance to avoid his forthcoming death. As a conclusion from this, we might say that the author is laying great emphasis on the fact that death is inevitable, and it occurs to the reader that the speaker is in exactly such a situation.
In the heroic couplet the speaker suggests that this fact, death being inevitable for all humans, should strengthen the love one feels for a person, simply because this love will not exist forever just as any human will not exist forever. It seems so as if the speaker is in a situation in which death is a relevant phenomenon. Of course, death should always be relevant for a human, but remembering the fact Shakespeare wrote this sonnet in his fifties the message stated in the heroic couplet has the character of a warning. The speaker seems to try to prevent young lovers from mistakes he did himself in his younger years and can only now understand their consequences. It also might be that his loneliness (line 4: ..bare ruined choirs..) is one of these consequences.
To put it in a nut shell, the speaker states a clear warning which implies not only not to forget about mortality but to treat the person you love respectfully with regard to the transitoriness both of life and love. Poetry and Poets.