"Bare Ruined Choirs, Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: A mood of melancholy is sustained in this sonnet, in which the poet, likening his estate to the end of the autumn, to the end of the day after the sunset, and to the final dying embers of the fire, reckons yet that his beloved must count him dearer because of the nearness of the time of separation. A forceful image is created in the likening of the bare branches of the trees to the arches of a ruined cathedral, both deserted by their choirs. The entire sonnet reads:

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 me thou seest 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.
In me thou seest 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.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes they love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.