Death And Mortality In William Shakespeare And John Donne's Holy Sonnet 73

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Themes of death and mortality appear frequently in poetry. Thinking about one’s own mortality, or the mortality of a loved one can be uncomfortable. Poets often discuss these distressing ideas in their writings. Two influential English poets, William Shakespeare and John Donne, included these themes in their poetry. In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, the speaker uses a series of metaphors to represent the process of growing old. In Donne’s Holy Sonnet 10, the speaker personifies death, and argues that death is not as fearful as it appears to be. Shakespeare and Donne invoke different tones and metaphorical images to portray feelings of death and mortality. A sonnet is a 14-line poem that is typically written in iambic pentameter. In a Petrarchan, or Italian, sonnet, the poem is divided into two parts, an octave and a sestet. The beginning of the sestet is called the volta, which signifies a change of tone in the sonnet. The typical rhyme…show more content…
Another sonnet form is the Shakespearean, or English, sonnet. This type sonnet consists of three quatrains and a couplet. The rhyme scheme is usually abab, cdcd, efef, gg. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73 is written in the Shakespearean form while Donne’s Sonnet 10 is written in the Petrarchan from. In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 73, each quatrain invokes a different metaphor to represent the aging process. The first quatrain suggests that the speaker is at the autumn at his life when he says, “That time of year thou may’st in me behold / When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang / Upon those boughs which shake against the cold / Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.” Words such as “cold” and “bare” convey ideas such as harshness and loneliness that are associated with old age. In the second quatrain, the speaker compares himself to, “the twilight of such

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