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Sonnet 73

Sonnet 73


by William Shakespeare

Sonnet 73 Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Line)

Quote #4

In me thou seest the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west, (5-6)

These lines take us back to the same sort of idea as at the beginning of the poem: the speaker's process of growing old is compared to some process in nature where a bright, colorful thing (here, the day) gets replaced by a cold, dark, deathlike thing. Just as at the beginning of the poem, we think Shakespeare probably does this to emphasize the inevitability of death by connecting it to an experience everyone can relate to. What's your take?

Quote #5

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,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by. (9-12)

Just like line 4, this quatrain seems to get into some weird double-switchback stuff between the human and the natural worlds. In line 9, Shakespeare takes us from the speaker (human) to something non-human, and arguably natural ("the glowing of such fire"). But then human terminology creeps back in when we learn that the fire "on the ashes of his youth doth lie." And yet, in line 11, the "death-bed" starts us off in a human key, but then the pronoun, "it" (repeated in line 12) takes us back to inanimate, non-human mode. What's going on here?

Quote #6

This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long. (13-14)

What do you think about the comparison between Man and the Natural World in these lines? Wait—what's that? You say there isn't anything about the Natural World here? You know what? You're absolutely right. But why do you think that is, after 12 lines where the comparison between humans and nature has been constantly at the forefront? Try this on for size: maybe the love that the speaker is describing, the love that happens with full awareness of death hanging overhead, isn't found in nature; maybe it's distinctively human. If so, do you think Shakespeare could have deliberately excluded nature imagery from the closing section of his poem as a way of highlighting that fact?

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