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Metaphor in Sonnet 73

Metaphor Examples in Sonnet 73:

Sonnet 73

🔒 6

"Death's second self..."   (Sonnet 73)

In many of Shakespeare’s works, night is metaphorically compared to death, perhaps most notably in Hamlet, in which Prince Hamlet asks “for in that sleep of death what dreams may come?”, and in Macbeth, in which Macbeth praises sleep—“the death of each day’s life”—after murdering King Duncan.

"that..."   (Sonnet 73)

“That” is yet another deictic pronoun. On a literal level, “that” is the wood which feeds the fire and eventually becomes the ash that suffocates the flame. However, on a metaphorical level, “that” signifies “time,” which both gives and takes away life. “That” could also refer to the speaker’s love of the youth, which is both all-consuming and destructive to his creative impulse and the fuel that nourishes his poetic fire.

"such fire..."   (Sonnet 73)

The speaker opens the third quatrain with a new metaphor for a human life: a fire which burns itself away. Just as the first and second quatrains related through temporal conceits, the second and third quatrains are related by light-based conceits. The word “such” often indicates a previously mentioned object, but here the speaker uses “such” to offer forth a new image.

"seals up..."   (Sonnet 73)

“Seals up” carries connotations of both death and sleep. In death, a coffin “seals up” the deceased. “Seals” also suggests “to seel,” an archaic form that applies specifically to the sealing of eyes to prevent sight. Sight is an important conceit in the poem—“thou mayst in me behold”—and defines the relationship between the speaker and the fair youth. Thus the notion of being blinded in death emphasizes the eventual separation.

"Death's second self..."   (Sonnet 73)

“Death’s second self” is a metaphor that comes full circle. The phrase is a metaphor for sleep and night, which in turn are metaphors for the underlying topic of death.

"in me behold..."   (Sonnet 73)

The speaker uses himself as a frame for all of the imagery he produces in the sonnet’s three quatrains. The autumn scene, the setting sun, and the smoldering fire are all “in me.” He underscores this frame by beginning the second and third quatrains identically, with the phrase “In me thou seest.” This is an imaginative move: the fair youth cannot truly see the speaker’s vivid metaphors.

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