Sonnet 73 is a meditation on mortality, and yet it can be interpreted in a number of ways. The first such interpretation is that the author of the poem is speaking to someone else about his own death that will inevitably come in the future. This interpretation has the poem focused on the author, and his focus and concern over himself. This makes him seem very selfish, because we are all going to die sooner or later, and it does not do any good to dwell on or complain about it. The only use that this interpretation really has is to evoke pity in the author, or the speaker of the Sonnet.
That is why it was this interpretation of Sonnet 73 that was used in a 1996 production of Shakespeare's The Tempest by the Indiana Repertory Theatre. The director substituted five or six Sonnets for the pageantry scene where Prospero summons island spirits to perform for Ferdinand and Miranda, the last Sonnet in this substitution being #73. Prospero has a plot against his life, and this Sonnet helps to remind him of this, and also to remind his daughter Miranda that soon her father will be gone. Prospero uses the last couplet of the Sonnet directed to Miranda as "This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong." This line could also be the author speaking in the third person, and he is referring to himself as "thou."
It is also interpreted as another two people conversing in these last lines by The Francis Bacon Society, they believe that Bacon was the one who wrote this Sonnet. "Here Bacon is meditating on getting old and like a sunset fading away and death like night sealing everything up. That the fire of his youth is like ashes on a fire expiring as on a death be...
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...g?" Or why doesn't the action of leaving have as its subject the "I," the poet, who in death would leave behind his auditor?. . .
If we read the last line with a stress on "thou," according to the meter, then the grammar and the meaning become consistent, and the reading of the Sonnet insists upon the shift in focus from the speaker's life (and imminent death), to the addressee's imminent loss of youth."
These are a couple of different ways that Sonnet 73 can be interpreted. It just goes to show that there are never any definite answers about things that belong to the category of art, and especially everything concerning the work of William Shakespeare. There will always be ideas and theories that will contradict each other, and that is really the only thing that can be excepted as a constant when dealing in projects such as this one.
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