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  • Writer's pictureMichael Curzan

A letter to William Shakespeare regarding his Sonnet 73: That time of year thou mayst in me behold

Dear Sir,

I have just received your most recent Sonnet.  I have read and enjoyed it.  Yet, it would feel amiss if I did not point out the few items I found unsatisfactory about this work, and also some other comments about it.  Please do not take this as a personal insult or as criticism for this or any other work of yours.  I just am trying to be helpful.

First, it is obvious that you use three metaphors for old age.  The first of these is that old age is like autumn or winter.  This comparison has often been used as such, not just by other poets, but even by yourself a while back at around Sonnet 5.  The second is that old age is like the evening of a day, before night sets in at the finish.  The third is that old age is like a fire that has burned out and is now just embers and ashes.  These, at face value, all appear to be quite accurate metaphors.  However, I couldn't help but notice that each of these situations can be in fact brought back to its former glory.  The winter naturally gives way to spring again, and the night eventually dawns anew and becomes tomorrow.  Finally, a burned-out fire can be, with care, restarted by adding more fuel.  In comparison, old age never goes back to childhood, only onward to the grave.  However, lest you get too angry at my pointing this out, remember that it is all only a metaphor, and nothing more.  It does not need to be completely accurate.

Second, the final couplet states that when a loved one doesn't have much more time to be with the one who loves him, their love will be stronger because they only have a limited time, specifically a limited time before the older one dies.  However, knowledge that death is not far off could also make someone too sad and worried to have much actual love.  I suppose it just depends what kind of person someone is, and how people choose to view things.

Finally, I am not sure that the author of this Sonnet needs to be so worried about his old age, which is to say, your age, no offence meant, as you are the author.  Either you are actually rather older than you have been letting on, or you are quite far-sighted in terms of your mortality, or you have some medical condition that makes you die sooner.  Perhaps you should say to me sometime soon just how old you really are, if it wouldn't offend you to do so.  I won't mind hearing the answer.  After all, I am just writing this to help.  And if it turns out you are close to death, I will make the most of our remaining time for correspondence.  I am sure you will do the same with your Sonnets.

Your faithful acquaintance,

Michael Curzan

10th grade, age 14

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