Poetry Information

Shakespeares Sonnet XVIII, Shall I Compare Thee to a Summers Day?


Shakespeare's sonnets require time and effort to appreciate. Understanding the numerous meanings of the lines, the crisply made references, the brilliance of the images, and the complexity of the sound, rhythm and structure of the verse demands attention and experience. The rewards are plentiful as few writers have ever approached the richness of Shakespeare's prose and poetry.

"Sonnet XVIII" is also known as, "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day?" It was written around 1599 and published with over 150 other sonnets in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe.

The first 126 sonnets are written to a youth, a boy, probably about 19, and perhaps specifically, William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. His initials, W.H., appear in Thorpe's dedication, and the first volume of Shakespeare's plays, published by two of his fellow actors, Herminge and Condell, after Shakespeare's death, was dedicated to William Herbert.

"Sonnet XVIII" is one of the most famous of all of Shakespeare's sonnets. It is written in the sonnet style that Shakespeare preferred, 14 lines long with three quatrains (four rhymed lines) and a couplet (a pair of rhymed lines).

The Sonnet praises the youth's beauty and disposition, comparing and contrasting the youth to a summer day. Then the sonnet immortalizes the youth through the "eternal lines" of the sonnet.

First Quatrain

The first line announces the comparison of the youth with a summer day. But the second line says that the youth is more perfect than a summer day. "More temperate" can be interpreted as more gentle. A summer day can have excesses such as rough winds. In Shakespeare's time May was considered a summer month, a reference in the third line. The fourth line contains the metaphor that summer holds a lease on the year, but the lease is of a short duration.

Second Quatrain

This quatrain details how the summer can be imperfect, traits that the youth does not possess. The fifth line personifies the sun as "the eye of heaven" which is sometimes too scorchingly hot. On the other hand, "his gold complexion," the face of the sun, can be dimmed by overcast and clouds. According to line 7, all beautiful things (fair means beautiful) sometimes decline from their state of beauty or perfection by chance accidents or by natural events. "Untrimmed" in line 8 means a lack of decoration and perhaps refers to every beauty from line 7.

Third Quatrain

This quatrain explains that the youth will possess eternal beauty and perfection. In line 10 "ow'st" is short for ownest, meaning possess. In other words, the youth "shall not lose any of your beauty." Line 11 says that death will not conquer life and may refer to the shades of classical literature (Virgil's Aeneid) who wander helplessly in the underworld. In line 12 "eternal lines" refers to the undying lines of the sonnet. Shakespeare realized that the sonnet is able to achieve an eternal status, and that one could be immortalized within it.

The Final Couplet

The couplet is easy to interpret. For as long as humans live and breathe on earth with eyes that can see, this is how long these verses will live. And these verses celebrate the youth and continually renew the youth's life.

"Shall I Compare Thee" is one of the most often quoted sonnets of Shakespeare. It is complex, yet elegant and memorable, and can be quoted by men and women alike. It has been enjoyed by all generations since Shakespeare and will continue to be enjoyed "so long as men can breathe, or eyes can see."

Sonnet XVIII, Shall I Compare Thee?
By William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day?
Thou are 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 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.

*****************************

Garry Gamber is a public school teacher. He writes articles about politics, real estate, health and nutrition, and internet dating services. He is the owner of http://www.Anchorage-Homes.com and http://www.TheDatingAdvisor.com.


MORE RESOURCES:
This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news


The Guardian

Indigenous slam queen Melanie Mununggurr-Williams crowned 2018 poetry champion – video
The Guardian
Melanie Mununggurr-Williams from Darwin has been crowned champion of the 2018 Australian Poetry Slam National Final, after she dropped a stunning slam on Aboriginal identity on Sunday night at Sydney Opera House. Source: Australian Poetry Slam.



A Poetry Hunter On Discovering Lost Poems Of Anne Sexton
NPR
Now two poetry hunters - that's right, that's a thing - have discovered more of her works, previously unknown works that show how she became one of the pioneers of confessional poetry. Two colleagues, Zachary Turpin of the University of Idaho and Erin ...



The Guardian

George the Poet: 'My manifesto was in poetry when I ran for student union chair'
The Guardian
As a writer of socially charged rap and poetry, he has become a spokesperson for issues faced by multicultural inner-city communities. Earlier this year, he opened the BBC's coverage of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and appeared twice ...



Irish Times

Poetry round-up: Kate Tempest, the phenomenon, is back
Irish Times
The strength of McGuckian's poetry lies in her capacity for phrase-making; her prosody has the ring of complete conviction even when it deals in gorgeous abstractions, her nouns unmoored from their contexts, her grammatical structures unanchored from ...



Toledo Blade

A poetic world: Words, kind or harsh, define everyday existence
Toledo Blade
Poetry is a name for the pleasure we take in the language we hear and speak, read and write. We savor words for their music as well as what they mean, the wonderful alchemy of their sound and sense together, even as we use them for the most mundane, ...



Forbes

This 23-Year-Old Bosnian Is Running An Online Poetry Contest To Fight Hate Speech In The Balkans
Forbes
A heart-warming example of how young activists are using digital technology to heal the painful war wounds of the Balkans and rebuild a healthy social fabric in the region is the online poetry contest Mili Dueli (English: Sweet Duels). Bosnian Nermin ...



Juneau Empire

Annual Grand Slam poetry event crowns a winner
Juneau Empire
After delivering three caustic poems en route to the eighth annual Woosh Kinaadeiyí Grand Slam title, Michael Christenson was all smiles. The night and the poetry slam season's top poet said he was happy to win and to have heard a lot of great poems in ...



The Guardian

Neil Tennant: 'Sometimes I think, where's the art, the poetry in all this ...
The Guardian
With his collection of Pet Shop Boys lyrics about to be published, the musician talks about songwriting through the Thatcher era, the Aids crisis and the age of ...

and more »


Mashable

Roll your eyes all you like, but Instagram poets are redefining the genre for millennials
Mashable
We millennials like our poetry typed out in neat fonts on rustic pastel backgrounds, centred in a tiny square on a small screen. We read short, simple, and relatable poems which may strike a chord with us for a second before we scroll on to the next ...



The Root

Today Is National Black Poetry Day. Here's a Totally Biased List of 10 Black Poems You Should Hear
The Root
Today is national black poetry day and I am, among many things, a black poet. I could link to Maya Angelou's “Phenomenal Woman” or some other literary poets, but there are these things called books that you should totally check out. And because The ...
National Poetry Slam champs at home base for a monthly slamCharlotte Observer
Backstage Stillwater hosted Red Dirty Poetry on TuesdayDaily O'Collegian

all 4 news articles »

Google News

home | site map | Art of the Ocean
© 2006