Sonnet 18 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 ow ’ st , Nor shall death brag thou wander ’ st

• Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?     This is taken usually to mean 'What if I were to compare thee etc?' The stock comparisons of the loved one to all the beauteous things in nature hover in the background throughout . •

• Thou art more lovely and more temperate :   The youth's beauty is more perfect than the beauty of a summer day . more temperate more gentle , more restrained , whereas the summer's day might have violent excesses in store , such as are about to be described .

• Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May ,  

May was a summer month in Shakespeare's time , because the calendar in use lagged behind the true sidereal calendar by at least a fortnight . darling buds of May - the beautiful , much loved buds of the early summer ; favourite flowers .

• And summer's lease hath all too short a date :      Legal terminology . The summer holds a lease on part of the year , but the lease is too short , and has an early termination ( date ).

• Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines ,  Sometime = on occasion , sometimes ; the eye of heaven = the sun .    > And often is his gold complexion dimmed ,    his gold complexion = his ( the sun's ) golden face . It would be dimmed by clouds and on overcast days generally . > A nd every fair from fair sometime declines , All beautiful things ( every fair ) occasionally become inferior in comparison with their essential previous state of beauty ( from fair ). They all decline from

• By chance , or nature's changing course untrimmed :  By chance accidents , or by the fluctuating tides of nature , which are not subject to control , nature's changing course untrimmed .

untrimmed - this can refer to the ballast ( trimming ) on a ship which keeps it stable ; or to a lack of ornament and decoration . The greater difficulty however is to decide which noun this adjectival participle should modify .   > But thy eternal summer shall not fade ,     Referring forwards to the

• Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st ,      Nor shall it ( your eternal summer ) lose its hold on that beauty which you so richly possess . ow'st = ownest , possess . By metonymy we understand 'nor shall you lose any of your beauty' .

  > Nor shall death brag thou wander'st in his shade ,

Several half echoes here . The biblical ones are probably ' Oh death where is thy sting? Or grave thy victory ?' implying that death normally boasts of his conquests over life .

• When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st ,

in eternal lines = in the undying lines of my verse . Perhaps with a reference to progeny , and lines of descent , but it seems that the procreation theme has already been abandoned . to time thou grow'st - you keep pace with time , you grow as time grows .  

Ø So long as men can breathe , or eyes can see ,    For as long as humans live and breathe upon the earth , for as long as there are seeing eyes on the eart .

 


So long lives this , and this gives life to thee . That is how long these verses will live , celebrating you , and continually renewing your life . But one is left with a slight residual feeling that perhaps the youth's beauty will last no longer than a summer's day , despite the poet's proud boast .


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 .

Tone Of The Poem The tone of the poem refers to the feelings , attitudes , perceptions and experiences of the persona . It also relates to the mood of the persona ( angry , sad , upset , disappointed , regretful , sarcastic , etc ). These feelings , attitudes and perceptions are expressed either directly or indirectly . In “ Sonnet 18 ”, the persona compares two elements of nature : the season and a human being . The persona feels deep admiration for his beloved and brings out his love ’ s good qualities and compares these qualities with the qualities nature ( summer ) possesses . He is in high spirits and he has a positive outlook on life . He believes his beloved is an eternal beauty and faces no death , as she is immortal through the poem . The persona is hopeful , happy and forward - looking .     However , the poet is cynical of summer when he says :        “ 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 sometimes declines ,”

LANGUAGE Poets use language to make the presentation of the poem more interesting . They use language to engage the readers ’ senses and imagination . Poets use different styles to express their ideas , feelings , and experiences . Style refers to the unique features of a piece of poem which differs from other poems . Poets use a particular style which allows them get the readers be interested and appreciate their poems . In “ Sonnet 18 ” the poet ( William Shakespeare ) makes use of fourteen lines to interact with the readers . A sonnet is a poem or a work of poetry that has fourteen lines . In this poem , the poet uses three quatrains ( a quatrain has 4 lines ) and ends the poem with a couplet ( a couplet contains two lines ). There are fourteen lines in the sonnet and the last two lines of the sonnet ( couplet ) give the intended meanings of the poem : As long as there

In “ Sonnet 18 ” the poet uses the following words and  phrases The poet also uses imagery ( words , phrases or expressions ) which works on our senses . Our senses are engaged through the use of particular imagery and we , as the readers feel the experiences , as if we too are part of the experiences or events . We also feel the emotions or moods of the persona , as we read the poems . Using Language To Convey Language The poet uses words to compare his love with summer . He uses words or phrases like ‘ thou art more lovely and more temperate ’ ( Line 2 ) to show the difference between his love and summer . He uses the word ‘ more ’. He says she is lovelier and more temperate than summer . In Lines 3 – 8 the poet shows the weaknesses of summer . Summer is unable to compete with his love . In fact , summer has many weaknesses or shortcomings . The weaknesses of summer are : The winds are rough and shake off the buds on plants , so there are fewer flowers around ( Line 3 ). Summer does not last long ; it is only for a certain time of the year ( Line 4 ). The sun is too hot ( Line 5 ). Sometimes the sun does not shine brightly and is dimmed ( Line 6 ). The beauty of summer declines ( Line 7 ), and it does not remain for long , as nature takes it course ( line8 ).

 Imagery Sense of hearing Sense of touch Sense of smell Sense of sight

  Words and phrases   rough wind , breathe   summer , wind , hot   buds of May summer , eye of heaven shines , eyes can see

The weaknesses of summer are shown through these phrases used by the poet in the poem :                               ‘ shake the darling buds of May ’ ‘ too short a date ’ ‘ too hot the eyes of heaven shines ’ ‘ gold complexion dimm ’ d ’ ‘ fair from fair sometimes declines ’ ‘ nature ’ s changing course , untrimm ’ d ’

The persona emphasises that summer is not as beautiful as his love . This is seen in lines 9 - 12 . The shift from the negative qualities of summer to positive qualities of the persona ’ s beloved can be noted through the use of the word ‘ but ’ in Line 9 . In Line 9 , the persona admits that his love is an eternal summer and does not fade .   He also tells that she will never lose her possession of beauty ( Line 10 ). Even death cannot take her wonders away ( Line 11 ). Her beauty lives through the lines of the poems forever ( Line 12 ).

The beauty of his beloved is shown through these phrases used by the poet in the poem:                               ‘eternal summer shall not fade’ ‘possession of that fair thou ows’t’ ‘Death brag thou wand’rest in his shade’ ‘eternal lines to time thou grow’st’ ‘fair from fair sometimes declines’ ‘nature’s changing course, untrimm’d’

In the last two lines (couplet), the poet reinforces the truth that his love will live through time and forever. This is possible, as long as people are alive and read the poem. The poem will be around forever to let the world know about her true eternal beauty, which surpasses summer many folds. This can be noted in the couplet (Lines 13-14):       ‘men can breathe, or eyes can see’      ‘lives this and this gives life to thee’

Symbol In literature, symbols relates to the use of objects, animals or human experiences or socio-cultural aspects to mean something. The eagle is often seen as a symbol of freedom and strength. Red symbolises danger. Green would mainly refer to the environment.   The poet uses a summer as a symbol of comparison. Most people consider summer to be the best period of the year as it is warm and flowers bloom. Moreover, the sun shines, and many activities go on. But, in the poem, summer is not a symbol of joy and happiness. Summer has many weaknesses. The persona wants the world to know that there is a different summer, which is lovelier and more temperate. It is the summer that lives in his beloved. It is an eternal summer than last forever, through the lines of the poem.   

Personification The poet makes the elements of nature behave like a person or have human qualities.   The sun is described as ‘the eye of heaven’ and the pronoun ‘his’ is used to show its gloominess ‘his gold complexion dimm’d’. The use of the word ‘complexion’ also relates to a person’s physical characteristic.

GLOSSARY 1. Engage – succeed in attracting and keeping people’s interest and attention     2. Intact – complete, everything is in 3. Perceptions – the way one perceives his or her surrounding, outlooks 4. Reveals – make something known, expose 5. Immortal – live or last forever, be remembered forever 6. Cynical – do not think that something is good or important 7. Features – having aspects, characteristics  

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