Shakespeare's Sonnets Questions and Answers
by William Shakespeare

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I am trying to understand sonnet 74 and am having real trouble with the language and imagery. Any help out there? I am comparing sonnets 64 and 74. Sonnet 64 is much more accessible to me while the references in 74 seem much more obscure.

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This sonnet ponders the speakers eventual death and tries to comfort his lover. Let's break it down and see if the meaning can be more clearly realized.

Lines 1-2: "But be contented when that fell arrest/With bail shall carry me away." "Fell arrest" is fearful death; "without bail" means that there is no deal to be made with mortality. However, the speaker begins the lines with "Be contented," so what is to come should be reassuring.

Lines 3-4: "My life hath in this line some interest,/Which for memorial still with thee hall...

(The entire section contains 302 words.)

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