These are interpretive questions. Please add quotations when answering the questions and make your answers at least 250 words for each question. 1. In the first line of "Sonnet 73," the speaker uses a time of year as a metaphor for his age. The metaphor continues throughout the entire stanza. What time of year is he describing? Why is it an appropriate metaphor for the speaker's age? 2. In the second stanza of "Sonnet 73," the speaker switches metaphors and says that his lover sees "the twilight of such day . . . which by and by black night doth away." What are twilight and night metaphors for? 3. Identify one metaphor in the poem above that we have not yet discussed. Why do you think the poet chose to make this comparison? 4. Identify one simile in the poems above that we have not yet discussed. Why do you think the poet chose to make this comparison?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

1. In lines 2 and 3 of “Sonnet 73,” the speaker mentions that his lover will notice his “yellow leaves, or none, or few” that “shake against the cold.” Based on these lines, the reader can infer that the time of year alluded to in the opening line is late autumn or winter. Yellow leaves would only be possible during the fall season, while bare branches are seen in winter. This metaphor is appropriate to describe the speaker because he is presumably old and nearing death, which he addresses in the final couplet of the sonnet when he says that his lover must “leave ere long.” Because winter is a time in which nature experiences a kind of death, or hibernation, it is often used throughout literature as a metaphor for old age. 2. Instead of comparing his life to a year, the speaker is comparing his life to a single day. Twilight is the time before the sun completely sets; it is the latter part of the evening. Night, of course, is the end of each day. Like autumn and winter, the twilight and night represent old age and death. The speaker thinks that death, like the night does to the day, “seals up all the rest” of his life. 3. Another metaphor the speaker uses comes in lines 9 and 10 when he says that his lover “see’st the glowing of such fire / That on the ashes of his youth do lie.” The poet chose to make this comparison because fire provides heat and energy. One might say that the speaker compares the passion of his younger days with a fire that has consumed his physical beauty in his old age. 4. The only other simile present in the poem comes in lines 11 and 12. The speaker provides another description of his lost youth, saying that it is gone “as on the death-bed” and “consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.” The speaker uses this simile to emphasize his comparison between his passion and youth. He uses this simile to suggest that what made him into such a passionate lover is his lust for life. This desire, though, expends so much energy that it has brought him closer to his impending death.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial