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.
My separation from you has felt just like winter, since you’re what makes the year pleasurable! I’ve felt very cold, and the days have seemed very dark, and everything has been as barren as in December! And yet the time we’ve been apart was actually summer, then fall, the harvest-time when nature gives birth to crops planted in the
The speaker personifies the spring as a dead father because the season is gone even while the crops planted during its duration remain.springlike a woman giving birth after her husband has died. And these abundant fruits of nature seemed like hopeless orphans to me, because summer and summer’s pleasures all depend on you, and, with you away, even the birds are silent. Or if they sing, they do it so dismally that the leaves grow pale with fear, dreading the fact that winter’s almost here.