To learn more about the rhyme schemes in the sonnets, visit our Guide to Shakespeare's Sonnets.
"Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate..."
See in text (Sonnets 21–30)
A lark is a type of ground-dwelling songbird. To signify rejuvenation and renewal, the speaker offers a stark shift from the gloomy and morbid language used throughout the sonnet by introducing the simile of a lark singing at daybreak. Notice as well how the repetition of s sounds in words such as “sullen,” “sings,” “hymns,” “heaven’s” suggests the lark’s call. The use of the word “sweet” in the following line serves as an echo to the sound of the singing lark.
See in text (Sonnets 71–80)
The phrase “surly sullen” creates a somber tone: the former adjective describes a bad temperament and the latter gloominess. Through assonance, the repetition of the muted u sounds as well as l sounds, these two adjectives appropriately mimic the sounds of a death knell, or the tolling of a bell to signal someone’s death.