Unanswered [3] | Urgent [0]

Home / Poetry   % width Posts: 4

Shakespeare's Sonnet #73 Translation

Notoman 20 / 419  
Sep 25, 2009   #1
We had to do a line-by-line translation of this Sonnet. DON'T TELL ME if I got it totally wrong. We aren't allowed to use ANY outside resources and I am afraid that if the pros (or someone who has read Cliff Notes) tell me what the Sonnet is really about, it will be obvious to my teacher.

But you can tell me if I have the sexual references totally wrong. I worry that I am being a teenage boy with a teenage mind. I'd be embarrassed if there really is nothing sexual in the Sonnet. Shakespeare wasn't afraid to write about sex, but I don't want to read something into it that isn't there. Here's my translation:

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
(I am getting old. You can probably see that.)
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
(My hair is getting gray and starting to fall out.)
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
(My joints hurt when it gets cold outside.)
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
(And even my voice is starting to warble.)
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
(You think of me as the young man you fell in love with.)
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
(But I am fading.)
Which by and by black night doth take away,
(Even my eyesight is failing me.)
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
(I am afraid I will go to sleep and never wake up.)
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
(You want me to be your lover with a flame of passion,)
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
(But I might need some Viagra to help there;)
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
(And it is killing me. The bed that was once for love is now for the sick and dying.)
Consumed with that which it was nourish'd by.
(It is because I love you that this hurts like it does.)
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
(Because you love me the way I am, your love is a true one.)
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
(Love me well now because I won't be around much longer.)

Thank you!
Brianne 2 / 17  
Sep 25, 2009   #2
I think your translation is right.
EF_Simone 2 / 1,986  
Sep 25, 2009   #3

This is lovely! You not only capture the sense of the sonnet, but do so in a way that creates a sonnet of its own. I hope that your teacher will appreciate you perception and your creativity.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Sep 25, 2009   #4
Yes, you are definitely on the right track. I especially like your gloss of the first four lines, which correctly interpret the metaphors, going a bit beyond the simple translation that was asked of you. The rest of translation certainly captures the general sense of the poem, though at points you seem to have gone line-by-line, even when the punctuation in the original would indicate a single thought spread out over two.

For instance:

"In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire that on the ashes of his youth doth lie," although it covers two lines, should be read as one, as there is no comma after the that. Your gloss treats each line as if it were its own clause. Just something for you to think about.

Home / Poetry / Shakespeare's Sonnet #73 Translation