Let’s start the New Year on this blog with a bit if classic Shakespeare – nothing like setting the bar high for future posts. Here is one of his most famous sonnets, number 73, meditating on aging, winter and the survival of love. A very suitable poem for the northern hemisphere winter, even if I rarely see a harsh winter where I live, in Texas.
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 ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day,
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by-and-by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Most of this poem, the first twelve lines in fact, is taken up by the poet drawing parallels between the barren winter landscape and his own aging condition, approaching death just as the days get shorter and nights are longer, the leaves have changed colour and fallen from the trees and the fires of youth, and the promise of spring are long-past.
The final two lines of the poem in contrast take comfort and hope from the observation that the poet’s lover sees his decline but loves him nevertheless, and stronger than ever as her love must be expressed in a shorter time, which is al he has left.
A fitting poem for winter, and a fitting poem for loving couples who have stayed together into the final years of their lives.
The Poetry Dude