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Дилсора Фозилова
Dilsora Fozilova





2/3/2013 9:06:31 AM
Imagery in the Shakespeare’s sonnet “That Time of Year”

Images are the pictures a poet draws in the mind’s eye of the reader through his words. Sometimes these images do not explicitly contain the meaning of the words used. Rather, they hold implicit meanings which the reader attempts to interpret and ascertain. Shakespeare’s "That Time of Year" is a great poem through which to analyse imagery. The beauty of this poem is that there are three quatrains in the poem and each of them holds amazing metaphors. And all three metaphors signify one theme – aging, signs of the last stage of the life.

In first verse Shakespeare talks about a certain time of year. When reading these lines the reader will likely feel the thrilling whisper of the author, saying, “That’s where I am. This is the stage of my life I am talking about”
“That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang” (Bevington pp-889)
The green leaves are turned to yellow and fall from the branches. Its late fall. This image represents author’s dreams, wishes and hopes those slowly turned yellow and fall from the branch. It’s a hopeless time of his life.
“Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”
The author is comparing his body to a tree, which lost its leaves; shaking and trembling against the cold and there are no more singing birds around. It is lonely and cold…

In the second verse he is comparing his aging with the twilight of the day.
“In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,” (Bevington pp-889)
It is be found just before nightfall - after the sun sank in the west. The day is over but some dim light from the setting sun still remains.
“Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.” (Bevington pp-889)
The author knows the black night soon will be upon him. The coming night is dark; it is lifeless like a death, which puts everyone to sleep. This quatrain makes me feel, that speaker is ready for his own ending, and he talks about it with very powerful images.

In his third metaphor Shakespeare draws the image of the dying fire:
“In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,” (Bevington pp-889)
As the fire dies beautiful red coals slowly sink into the ashes. The author is saying his youth once was like bright flames. Now, however, the shimmering coals are lying on his youth.
“As the death-bed whereon it must expire”
As the fire is about to die, ashes are covering it. The image inside the image, fire is in its “death-bed”. There is another philosophical meaning in the last line of the quatrain.
“Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by” (Bevington pp-889)
The fire that is being consumed by nature was nourished by nature itself. Also this line explains his way of thinking about aging. He was born, grew up, lived his life and got old and is now going to die by the power of nature. This poem was addressed to someone who loves author very much,
“This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.” (Bevington pp-889)
Speaker says to his beloved “you must sense the changes and the signs of death and it will make your love stronger. Because you know there is not much time for love left, soon death will part us”
Shakespeare’s this sonnet contains some beautiful imagery which gives life to it’s theme of aging.

*Bevington, David. Ed. The Necessary Shakespeare. Third Edition. United States: Pearson Educaton, Inc, 2009. pp-889. Web. 24 Oct. 2011. .