Presentation on theme: "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."— Presentation transcript:
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 dimmed; And every fair from fair sometimes declines, By chance or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
By thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st, Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st. So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. William Shakespeare (1564 -1616)
Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet is perhaps one of the best-known sonnets in the English literary canon. It is a conventional Shakespearean sonnet that explores conventional themes in an original way. With characteristic skill, the poet uses it to exalt poetry and his beloved.
The first line of the first quatrain introduces the primary conceit of the sonnet, the comparison of the speaker’s beloved to a summer’s day. The speaker then builds on this comparison when he writes, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” Here he is describing his beloved in a way that could also describe summer.
As the quatrain continues, the speaker then used rough winds as a metaphor for unpredictable chance and change, and he implies that his beloved does not suffer from these winds as summer does. The first quatrain, therefore, introduces a comparison that will be expanded upon by the remaining two quatrains.
In the second quatrain, the speaker personifies the sky, or “heaven,” by using the metaphor of an “eye” for the sun so that he can make the comparison between a person and a season vivid. By assigning heaven an “eye,” the speaker invokes the image of his beloved’s eyes.
Similarly, in the next line when the speaker mentions that summer’s “gold complexion” is often “dimmed,” he is attempting to compare another human attribute of his beloved with some trait of summer. The second quatrain presents summer as possessing only mutable beauty.
The third quatrain no longer focuses on the mutability of summer, but speaks of the nearly eternal nature of the memory of the beloved. As the speaker assures his beloved that her “eternal summer shall not fade,” he is using summer as a metaphor for her beauty and youth.
The word “fade” is used here to facilitate the comparison of the abstract notion of a summer’s day to the concrete person of the beloved because fading is a quality of light. Similarly, when the speaker writes of the beloved entering the “shade” of death, he is expanding on the use of the metaphor and reinforcing the poem’s primary conceit.
The speaker then boasts that his beloved will not suffer the same fate as a summer’s day because he has made her immortal in his “eternal lines.” Here, the speaker adds the theme of poetry itself to a sonnet that had previously been a love poem. Immortality, denied of a summer’s day, is then bestowed upon the speaker’s beloved through poetry.
The couplet concludes the sonnet by tying together the themes of love and poetry. The speaker sharply contrasts the life spans of his poem and his memory of the beloved with the fleeting nature of a summer’s day. He boasts that, unlike a summer’s day, his poetry and the memory of his beloved will last “so long as men can breath or eyes can see.” This last comparison provides a sharp contrast between eternity and “a summer’s day.”
Shakespeare used a conventional form of poetry to praise poetry and his beloved. He spoke with pride that both would be preserved nearly eternally. Four hundred years later, no one refutes his boast.