Shakespeare Sonnet 97 Analysis, How like a winter hath my absence been

Shakespeare Sonnet 97 Analysis, theme, summary and translation into modern text

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This is a short summary of Shakespeare sonnet 97. Continue reading for complete analysis and meaning in the modern text. For the complete list of 154 sonnets, check the collection of Shakespeare Sonnets with analysis. It is highly recommended to buy “The Monument” by Hank Whittemore, which is the best book on Shakespeare Sonnets.

Shakespeare Sonnet 97 (Original Text)

How like a winter hath my absence been
From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!
What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!
What old December’s bareness everywhere!
And yet this time removed was summer’s time,
The teeming autumn big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,
Like widowed wombs after their lords’ decease.
Yet this abundant issue seemed to me
But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit.
For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And thou away, the very birds are mute.
Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.
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Shakespeare Sonnet 97 Modern Text (Translation)

Shakespeare sonnet 97 modern text translation

-via SparkNotes

Shakespeare Sonnet 97 Analysis

the poet compares his separation from the fair youth to dull and dreary winter “How like a winter hath my absence been” because it is the youth’s presence who makes his days bright like summer “From thee, the pleasure of the fleeting year!” but now the days are cold and dark “What freezings have I felt, what dark days seen!” and the entire atmosphere is like barren month of December “What old December’s bareness everywhere!”

Yet he says that the time they were separated was actually summer “And yet this time removed was summer’s time,” which led to autumn when the time comes for the harvest of crops “The teeming autumn big with rich increase,” which were planted in spring and grown in the earth “Bearing the wanton burthen of the prime,” like pregnant women giving birth after their husbands have died “Like widowed wombs after their lords’ decease.”

But the poet says this abundance and riches of nature seems to him “Yet this abundant issue seemed to me” like orphans without fathers “But hope of orphans, and unfathered fruit.” Because the pleasure of summer for the poet only depends on the youth’s presence “For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,” and now he is gone even the birds don’t sing anymore “And thou away, the very birds are mute.”

If he hears birds singing it is lifeless and dull tunes “Or if they sing, ’tis with so dull a cheer” that is similar to the warning sounds birds make when winter is coming “That leaves look pale, dreading the winter’s near.”

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