William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18


William Shakespeare 


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? 
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date: 
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; 
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest: 
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.



By making a question addressing to the beloved, the narrator continues the poem, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” Then he has mentioned about his beauties and compared his beauties with different thinks. He has also mentioned the different characteristics of summer and the bad sides of summer. Then, he wants to compare his friend to the summer but he does not compare him because a summer has different bad sides which are not contained in his friend. Firstly, he wants to compare the beauty of the summer to his friend but he does not because the rough winds of summer sometimes shake the buds of flowers and which become more harmful to the loveable flowers and buds. But his friend has no harmful side like the wind of summer. Secondly, the heat of the eye of heaven is so hot that everything loses their own color and the sun also loses its golden color but his friend has no bad sides like the sun of summer. Thirdly, the beauty of summer is short lasting but the beauty of his friend is long lasting and permanent, which will never destroy. His friend will not die. Even death will be unable to touch and to take his friend. He will live in the lines of this poem till man will recite the poem and they will able to take breath and look.


William Shakespeare’s sonnet 18 is definitely the most famous in the sequence of his sonnets; it may be the most famous lyric poem in English. Among Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets it is most popular and famous sonnet. Like much of Shakespeare’s work, Sonnet 18 is all about writing and expressing one’s self through language. This is, at its clearest, a poem about the power of the written word over death, fate, and possibly even love. The poem is simply a statement of praise about the beauty of the beloved; summer tends to unpleasant extremes of windiness and heat, but the beloved is always mild and temperate. Sonnet 18 opens up looking an awful lot like a traditional love poem, but by the end it’s pretty clear that the poet is much more into himself and the poetry he produces than the beloved he’s addressing. In fact, at times it seems like he might actually harbor some resentment toward the beloved. So if it is a love poem, it’s to the poet.



On the surface, the poem is simply a statement of praise about the beauty of the beloved; summer tends to unpleasant extremes of windiness and heat, but the beloved is always mild and temperate. Summer is incidentally personified as the “eye of heaven” with its “gold complexion”; the imagery throughout is simple and unaffected, with the “darling buds of May” giving way to the “eternal summer”, which the speaker promises the beloved. The language, too, is comparatively unadorned for the sonnets; it is not heavy with alliteration or assonance, and nearly every line is its own self-contained clause—almost every line ends with some punctuation, which affects a pause.

Sonnet 18 is written in the typical Shakespearean Sonnet  form, having 14 lines of iambic pentameter ending in a rhymed couplet. Detailed exegeses have revealed several double meanings within the poem, giving it a greater depth of interpretation. It is a part of the Fair Youth sequence.

Structure: Sonnet 18 is a typical English or Shakespearean sonnet. It consists of three quatrains. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is: abab cdcd efef gg. It has carried the meaning of an Italian or petrarchan sonnet that naturally discussed the love and beauty of a beloved, often an unattainable love, but not always. 


Sources: (Wikipedia, Text Book, and Guide Book and my own practice)  



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