Sonnet 73 by William Shakespeare

Lesson Plans by Kristy Littlehale

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Sonnet 73 Lesson Plans

“Sonnet 73” is a poignant sonnet for anyone who has sensed time passing by too quickly, and the need to hang on to youth, life, and experiences much more tightly. This sonnet uses winter, night, and a dying fire as metaphors for the inevitable approach of Death. This sonnet is excellent to use for literary elements, TPCASTT analysis, and for a student to connect their own experience of time passing by too quickly. While old age and death may seem far away for our students, the final activity will help them understand exactly what Shakespeare is trying to say to his readers.

Student Activities for Sonnet 73 Include:

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A Quick Synopsis of "Sonnet 73"

The narrator opens the poem by comparing the passing of his life to the season autumn, which quickly fades into the cold, barren winter. He also compares his dwindling time to common motifs such as twilight, and the embers of a once-roaring fire. Typical of Shakespeare sonnets, however, there is a twist in the final couplet: the narrator directly addresses someone in this final couplet, saying that that person sees all of these images of dying, but they make that person’s love stronger (perhaps for the narrator), since that person knows they will eventually lose the object of their affections. This final couplet could also be viewed as the narrator advising the readers that we see age and the ones we love getting older, so we should increase our love for them even more, because we don’t know how much time we have left with them.

Essential Questions for "Sonnet 73"

  1. How can time create conflict in a person’s life?
  2. Is it more important to “seize the day” and live in the moment, or to be very conscious of what might happen in the years to come?
  3. How do the seasons of nature reflect our own life cycle?

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