Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sonnet XCVII (97)

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 every where!
And yet this time remov'd was summer's time,
The teeming autumn, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime, 
Like widow'd wombs after their lord's decease:
Yet this abundant issue seem'd to me 
But hope of orphans and unfather'd 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.

XCVII. In this Sonnet, which evidently commences a new group, the poet states that he has been away from his friend during the summer and autumn, seasons which had seemed to him cheerless as winter. The Sonnet was written apparently either in the autumn or at the beginning of winter, but probably the former (see lines 13, 14). 

2. From thee, "who art to me the pleasure," &c. 

4. Old December's bareness. Cf. v. 8. 

6, 8. The teeming autumn, &c. Autumn pregnant with the fruits prepared by summer, a season now passed away. 

9, 10. Like the hope of leaving posthumous offspring. 

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