Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Shakespeare, Love, and Dying

I had to memorize a Shakespeare sonnet when I was in grade school and, although successful, I never really understood that it was talking about love and loss when dying. At a memorial service for a colleague several years ago I was able to recall it, so I guess it's become part of me. Shakespeare deeply understood that the ever present companion of aging is painful loss in the umbrella of love: "This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong, To love that well, which thou must leave ere long."


Shakespeare's 73rd sonnet
That time of year thou mayst 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 tho 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 perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
...To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.


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