What poetic techniques are in Shakespeare's sonnet 97?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Poetic Devices used in Sonnet 97:

Format: The Shakespearean sonnet has fourteen lines and a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG. The sonnet is composed in iambic pentameter, which means that each line has five iambs (an unstressed and stressed syllable, like duh-DUM), 


  • In the first line "How like a winter hath my absence been," the speaker of the poem compares his absence to the coldness of winter.
  • "Like widowed wombs"-- Shakespeare makes a comparison of the harvest of crops to women giving birth after the husband has died.

Extended Metaphor: Shakepeare takes the original simile in the first line and extends it into a larger metaphor for his feelings concerning his absence from his loved one.

Imagery:  Imagery appeals to the reader's five senses, like in line twelve, "the very birds are mute;" Shakespeare uses the silence of the birds to evoke a gloomy, mournful setting and mood.

Alliteration: Alliteration occurs when the writer uses the repetition of two or more words beginning with the same sound, like "Dark days."





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