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Sonnet 18: Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

William Shakespeare

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Interpretation of "Shall I Compare...", by Shakesp
Added by: Sophia L. Jurisch
Shakespeare begins his poem, “Shall I Compare…” by asking his dear love if he should compare her with a summer’s day. From line 3-to 8, he tells his love about the imperfections of nature which do not compare to her beauty. These are the imperfections: the winds are rough and unloving, as they shake the “darling buds of May (flowers), the summer’s day are not eternal, the sun sometimes is too hot – it does not keep a steady pleasant temperature, the sun’s complexion is ofted dark (dimmed), and every beauty in the world sometimes declines (nothing is foreever). In line 9 and 10, he wishes her eternal beauty; he does not want her to lose her beauty. In line 11, he wishes her eternal life; he does not want death to take her away. In the last three lines, he says that the only way one is remembered is through the printed word which will last foreever. As long as there are humans to breathe, to see, to live, she will on will grow old (his love will grow old) with the printed word.
Added by: Lara
I thought i would put this translation of sonnet 18 in for anyone who doesn't understand it:

Shall i compare you to a day in summer
You are more beautiful and less harsh
In summer, there are strong winds that shake the flowers
Summer is only with us for a short time
Sometimes the sun is too hot for comfort
All beautiful things eventually lose their attractiveness
By accident, or through the passing of time, beauty is lost
your attractiveness will not be lost, however
you won't lose the loveliness that you have
Even death can't cast a shadow over your beauty
Your beauty is recorded in print forever
For as long as civilisation survives
This poem will keep your memory alive

Now do you see how beautiful it is?
love? I don't think so
Added by: dorei
I believe he was actually being sarcastic in this sonnet.

Whether he is speaking of someone male or female doesn't really matter -- I think he was remarking on the person in question's vanity.
what's right?
Added by: chloee
When I first read this beautiful piece of poetry, I thought it was speaking to a woman that Shakespeare(or the speaker of the poem) loved and wanted to flatter. I liked where he says that she is fairer than the sun("eye of heaven"), which sometimes is too hot, and fades with the ending of the days & seasons, because her beauty will never fade, because in his sonnet, she will live forever as young and beautiful as she is at the moment at which he wrote it.
I read, though, that Shakespeare in fact wrote this for a man, someone said his nephew, someone said and earl, and now I'm a bit confused. I wonder if anyone really know's what's right!
Added by: Laura
if its not good... then how come its lasted this long? i think the thing that makes it good is...
a) its written about something that everyone can relate to
b) the context of the poem is easy to understand to most people
c) it gives a feeling of everlasting love especially in the last line
d) the poem uses lots of clever little comparisons brought about by a rhetorical question.

and quite frankly... its kinda catchy.
everyone wants to believe that the thing they love is far better than anything else on earth. thats why this poem is so good. it gives the reader a relationship with the feelings brought about it the poem. you can also give it to anyone or relate it to anyone, because while it was written for a young man... it has no real gender mentioned in it.

i love this poem. id love to see you come up with something better.
Added by: bobby
shakespear made works of art. I think this poem talks about the women he loved and discribes her of the sun because of the suns everlasting beauty
Added by: Charli
I believe that the persona in this poem- shakespeare or otherwise- is writting sort of a love letter. He says that her beauty and memories of her will last into eternity because all his/her feelings are in this poem. As long as this poem lives so shall the memories and the beauty of his fair.
Added by: tazzy
Shakespeare’s eighteenth sonnet is, perhaps, one of the best-known sonnets contained in the English literary canon. It is a conventional Shakespearean sonnet that explores conventional themes in an original way. With characteristic skill Shakespeare uses the sonnet to exalt poetry and his beloved.
The first quatrain introduces the primary conceit of the sonnet, the comparison of the speaker’s beloved to a summer’s day. In the first line the speaker introduces the comparison of his beloved to a summer’s day. The speaker then builds on this comparison when he writes, “Thou art more lovely and more temperate” (2) because he is describing his beloved in a way that could also describe summer. When he describes “rough winds [that] do shake the darling buds of May,” (3) he is using rough winds as a metaphor for capricious 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 is expanded upon by the remaining two quatrains.
The second quatrain strengthens the comparison of the beloved to a summer’s day. The speaker anthropomorphizes the sky, or “heaven,” (5) by using the metaphor of an “eye” (5) for the sun so that the comparison between a person and a season becomes 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,” (6) 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 it speaks of the nearly eternal nature of the memory of the beloved. When the speaker assures his beloved that her “eternal summer shall not fade,” (9) he is using summer as a metaphor for her beauty. Using the word “fade” facilitates 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” (10) of death, he is expanding on the use of the metaphor and reinforcing the poem’s primary conceit. When the speaker boasts that his beloved will not suffer the same fate as a summer’s day because he has committed her to “eternal lines,” (12) he adds the theme of poetry itself to a sonnet that had previously been a love poem. Shakespeare gives his beloved immortality through poetry that God did not give to a summer’s day.
The couplet concludes the sonnet by tying together the themes of love and poetry. In it the speaker starkly contrasts the life spans of his poem and his beloved’s memory to 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 breathe or eyes can see” (13). This last comparison provides a stark contrast to the time period, “a summer’s day,” (1) introduced at the beginning and exalts poetry along with the beloved.
Shakespeare used a conventional form of poetry to praise poetry and his beloved. He boasted that both would be preserved nearly eternally. Five hundred years later, no one refutes his boast.

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